By YKA Staff:
1) Bottom’s up: While the country average of per annum alcohol consumption by an individual stands at 2.2 liters (2008-12), in Kerala it is thrice that at over 8 liters per annum! Rum, whiskey, and brandy top the favorite drinks list.
2) Bar on bars: It was back in April 2014 that the state government announced its decision that alcohol will be allowed in only 5 star hotels. Hundreds of small bars were shut down due to this, owners of which appealed to the High Court.
3) No violation of fundamental rights: On March 31 this year, the High Court upheld the no-liquor policy of the Kerala government saying it in no way violated fundamental rights, was in fact in accordance with Article 47 of the Directive Principles of State Policy that exhorts the state to prohibit ‘the consumption except for medicinal purpose of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.’
4) Unhealthy tourism: In reply to the appellants’ argument that tourism and economy will take a hit because of such a move, the judges shut down the argument saying: “Tourism cannot be the only motive of any policy, welfare and health of people is equally important. The promotion of tourism cannot translate into promotion of liquor.”
5) Apex court puts foot down: Now, even the Supreme Court has upheld the HC’s verdict in a historic judgment saying, that if it benefits public health, even an ‘unreasonable’ ban on sale of liquor is within the State’s right. It also said that given this was a policy prescription of the State government, liquor traders had no say in it.
6) Uncertain future: What this means is that over 700 bars will now be permanently shut down in Kerala, but may apply for a license to continue as beer or wine parlors. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who pled for the bar owners said that such a policy would mean that only the ‘well-heeled have access to alcohol’.
7) Liquor-free Kerala: With government-run liquor stores to be phased out in the next 10 years, this is part of Kerala government’s policy to make ‘God’s own country’ a liquor-free state by 2023.