The Tamil Nadu government moved the Supreme Court on Saturday against the Madras High Court’s order to close all state-run liquor shops amid the nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus, Bar and Bench reported.
On Friday, the Madras High Court noted that there was a “blatant violation” of its guidelines regulating the sale of liquor at Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) outlets and ordered their closure. The court, however, said that online delivery of liquor will still be allowed. On Thursday, the same bench had refused to stay the government order allowing the sale of liquor.
In its petition to the top court, the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation said the High Court’s order had led to a “complete and indefinite standstill of the sale of liquor in the state”, causing huge revenue and business losses.
The state government argued that the closure order was passed on a misinterpretation of the Supreme Court’s direction to the state governments to consider non-direct sale including online sale/home delivery of liquor so that norms of physical distancing are not broken. The government said that the High Court’s order was a “a clear case of judicial overreach and is not sustainable in light of the Supreme Court order”.
Residents in Tamil Nadu had lined up outside liquor outlets in the state as they opened after six weeks on Thursday, ignoring all physical distancing norms. About 20 lakh litres of alcohol, worth Rs 170 crore, was sold in a day, according to several reports. Huge crowds were also seen outside liquor shops in other parts of the country, sparking fears of the spread of infection.
Tamil Nadu has registered a huge increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the last few days. The state’s tally has gone up to 6,009, according to data from the Union health ministry. The coronavirus has killed 40 people in the state.