The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday heard a batch of petitions challenging the state government’s Prohibition Act, under which the sale and consumption of liquor is banned, Bar and Bench reported.
One of the petitions argued that the law was irrational and unfair, according to PTI. “The state cannot dictate what he [a citizen] will eat and what he will drink,” Rajiv Patel, the petitioner said.
Patel added that citizens had the right to choose how to live as long as they were not causing any inconvenience to society.
“When it is found that privacy interests come in, then the state has no compelling reason to continue an existing law, which penalises private transportation, possession and consumption of liquor that cause no harm to others,” the petitioner added, according to PTI. “The provisions destroy the right to life, personal liberty and privacy which is a pivotal facet of Article 21 of the Constitution.”
Wednesday was the third day of the hearing in the case. On Tuesday, the petitioners had argued that the government might as well control what food people consume at home if it put restrictions on alcohol consumption, according to The Indian Express.
Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, who represented the state government, opposed this argument. “The right to eat non-veg within four walls of one’s home cannot be compared to drinking intoxicating substances that are injurious to health,” he said, according to Bar and Bench. “Tomorrow someone may argue that I am consuming psychotropic substances within my home and the State cannot impose control.”
Trivedi added that citizens’ right to privacy was subject to certain restrictions based on the social environment. “This concept of Right to Privacy is not like a bull in a china shop,” he said.
The advocate general also said that the Supreme Court had upheld the Gujarat Prohibition Act in 1951. “It is not permissible for [high] court to examine the validity of any law [on] additional grounds when it has been upheld by the apex court in the past,” he said, according to PTI.
Senior advocate Prakash Jani, who represented a women’s NGO, also urged the court not to accept the arguments of the petitioners, according to The Indian Express. “Essentially, the entire prohibition law centres around section 12 and 13 [alcohol prohibition], which is held to be constitutionally valid and has remained enforced since the past 70 years and people of Gujarat are extremely happy with the Prohibition law, barring certain petitioners,” he said.
After hearing the arguments in the case, the division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav reserved its order on the petitions.