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NEWS CITIES CHENNAI CHENNAIVending of liquor is an obnoxious trade, says Chief Justice Sahi Mohamed Imranullah S.CHENNAI 14 DECEMBER 2019 00:35 ISTUPDATED: 14 DECEMBER 2019 00:35 IST ‘However law does no prohibit establishment of liquor shops on farm lands’ Vending of liquor is an “obnoxious trade” and it has social and moral dimensions. Therefore, the restrictions imposed by law on locating such liquor vending shops will have to be abided by in the strict sense, the first Division Bench of Madras High Court led by its Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi has held. However, after finding that the law does not prohibit locating of liquor shops on agricultural lands, the Bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, said the shops could be established in buildings constructed on agricultural lands after ascertaining whether all necessary approvals had been obtained. The orders were passed on a writ petition filed by Mallasamy Nachimuthu, a resident of Mylambadi village in Bhavani Taluk of Erode district to close down a liquor shop established on an agricultural land. The land owner’s counsel Naveen Kumar Murthi opposed the plea citing the absence of any such legal bar. However, passing interim orders in the case on February 3, another Division Bench led by Justice S. Manikumar (now Chief Justice of Kerala High Court) had disapproved of the practice of Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) not sparing even properties classified as agricultural lands when it came to establishing liquor shops. “Sanctity of a place which gives food, justice (courts), health (hospitals), worship (temple/mosque/church), education (schools/colleges/universities) and such other places are to be preserved for the intended purpose and should not be used for commercial purpose or earning revenue. “Agricultural field is a place worshipped by farmers. It has to be respected and not used for earning revenue through liquor. For the sake of money, land owners may come forward to provide space… but it should be the endeavour of the government to ensure that people are provided with employment opportunities than providing liquor shops,” the Bench had said. However, when the case was taken up for final hearing now by the Bench led by Chief Justice Sahi, the Tasmac pointed out that the law does not prohibit establishment of liquor shops on lands classified as agricultural lands. It was also highlighted that farm lands lying in disuse for long could be reclassified in the revenue records. It also submitted a list of college, hospitals and other institutions that had been constructed on agricultural lands in the State. In the same breath, the corporation agreed that it cannot establish liquor shops in unapproved buildings and provided a list of such shops that were closed down after the interim order of the previous Bench. After recording its submission, the Chief Justice’s Bench permitted the corporation to establish liquor shops strictly in conformity with the rules and regulations.