Saturday, October 1, 2022

Chhattisgarh High Court disposes of PIL against order to shift liquor shop

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The Chhattisgarh High Court closed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against an order dated 20.05.2020, whereby a retail foreign liquor shop was shifted to the private land of a private respondent situated in Ward No. 9 whereas earlier also, the shop was running in the same ward.

It is contended in the petition that distance between a school and the liquor shop, distance between main road from Pathariya to Mungeli, and liquor shop, distance between petrol pump and liquor shop, distance between weekly market and liquor shop, distance between burial place and liquor shop and distance between residential colony and liquor shop, are 50 metres, 10 metres, 70 metres, 50 metres, 80 metres and 50 metres, respectively, and therefore, violates the rules and guidelines framed by the State Government as well as the directions of the High Court.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Parth Prateem Sahu held that no specific rules have been quoted by the petitioners. It is pleaded that the shop is shifted only to accommodate the interest of respondents.

The respondents had filed their reply on 12.02.2021 and the copy of the same was received by the counsel for the petitioners on 17.02.2021. Till date, even though more than 1 year and 5 months had passed by, no reply-affidavit has been filed. In such circumstances, prayer for grant of further time to file rejoinder-affidavit is not acceded to, the Bench observed.

In the return, it is stated that Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Ltd. is an agency constituted for management and marketing of liquor from the State. It is found that at most of the places of the State ofChhattisgarh, foreign liquor shops and country liquor shops are located together, resulting in overcrowding and mismanagement in the place where such shops are located.

It is in that background, a meeting was held in the month of March 2020, wherein it was decided that wherever foreign liquor shops and country liquor shops are located at one place, foreign liquor shops are to be shifted to some other convenient place.

Accordingly, a committee was constituted by the Collector of District Mungeli to locate a suitable place for shifting the foreign liquor shop as country liquor and foreign liquor shop in the instant case was located in one place.

A newly constructed building of private respondent was identified and to consider as to whether the same would be compliant of all regulations, a report was called for. The Halka Patwari submitted a report dated 21.04.2020 and on the basis of said report, the committee opined that the identified place is conforming to the norms and rules.

On the basis of said report, direction was issued to shift the shop to the house of private respondent by taking it on rent. It is also stated that after shifting of the shop, certain complaints were received regarding the location and again an inquiry was conducted to verify the allegations. It is stated as follows:

“9. It is worthy to mention that after shifting of the shop complaints were received regarding the location andagain an inquiry was conducted to verify the allegations made in the complaint regarding location being contrary to the provisions of law. Again the inquiry was conducted and spot inspection was made and Panchnama was prepared in presence of witnesses and specific measurement was recorded in their presence and it was found that the distance of the foreign liquor shop to the petrol pump is 100 metres, the distance of the shop from Vivekanand Higher Secondary School is 150 metres, the distance from the residential colony of the forest department is 200 metres and distance of weekly market is 500 metres from the shop and as the shop was not located in any Abadi place there is least movement of women near the vicinity of the said liquor shop. On the basis of the said Panchnama, a report was submitted on 21.09.2020 wherein it has been stated that foreign liquor shop Pathariya is located in a transferred place as per law and none of the guidelines have been violated. Even as per general applications rules regarding location of shops the present shop nowhere violates any of the conditions and the said Rule 1(i) (B) is not applicable to the case of situation of foreign liquor shop Pathariya.

  1. It is respectfully submitted that in view of the submissions made hereinabove, it is evident that the location of the foreign liquor shop is as per the norms fixed by the Government and nowhere any violation of the guidelines was found to have taken place. The order transferring the foreign liquor shop to the building of respondent No. 6, vide order dated 20.05.2020 is in accordance with law after duly taking into consideration the norms and the guidelines in this regard. The present petitioners have merely alleged the location to be contrary to law however no complaint was received from any of the villagers to the department or any incidents were reported as alleged in the instant petition. The Entire act is in accordance with law and the present petition bereft of merit and is liable to be dismissed.” Having regard to the above, the Bench found no good ground to continue with this public interest litigation and accordingly, the same is closed.
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