Earlier, a different Division Bench headed by Justice S Manikumar (who is now Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court) had taken the view that agricultural land should not be provided for opening liquor shops, remarking that, “Agricultural field is a place worshipped by farmers and to be respected and not to be used for earning revenue through liquor.”




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Liquor vending an obnoxious trade, restrictions placed must be strictly followed: Madras HC [Read Order]



Meera Emmanuel
47 seconds ago
Liquor vending an obnoxious trade, restrictions placed must be strictly followed: Madras HC [Read Order]




The Madras High Court recently clarified that while liquor shops are not prohibited from being set up on Agricultural lands, the same can only be allowed after strictly adhering with the governing law.
In doing so, the Bench of Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice SubramoniumPrasad also made certain critical observations social and moral implications of opening liquor shops. The order passed earlier this month notes,
… vending of liquor is an obnoxious trade and has also social and moral dimensions and consequently the restrictions placed by law have to be abided by in the strict sense in order to ensure that liquor vending shops are not located in a premises, even if situate over agricultural land, unless an appropriate permission under the law for the time being in force, including a building plan approval exists. To that extent, the authorities are bound to take measures before finally renting out any premises, which we find is the process now adopted after issuance of directions by this Court.”
The Court was dealing with a plea filed against the establishment of a TASMAC liquor retail vending shop in certain agricultural land in Erode. Earlier, a different Division Bench headed by Justice S Manikumar (who is now Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court) had taken the view that agricultural land should not be provided for opening liquor shops, remarking that, “Agricultural field is a place worshipped by farmers and to be respected and not to be used for earning revenue through liquor.
The present Bench, before which the matter came up thereafter, however, took note that there is no express prohibition in law on the establishment of liquor stores in agricultural land under the applicable law i.e. the Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act, 1937 and the Tamil Nadu Liquor Retail Vending (In Shops and Bars) Rules, 2003. As observed in the order,
A perusal of the above Rule would leave no room for doubt that there is no such prohibition contained under the Excise Laws for the time being in force either placing a total prohibition or a restriction for the opening of a liquor vending shop located over an agricultural piece of land…
… we do not find any such prohibition or restriction of the utilization of premises established/ constructed over agricultural land for the said purpose.”
The Court proceeded to hold,
We are, therefore, of the clear opinion that a liquor vending shop can be housed in a premises that may be situate over an agricultural piece of land, subject to the conditions and restrictions which are required for the utilization of such land in accordance with the Rules and Regulations, referred to herein above, and as detailed in the affidavits filed by the fourth respondent (TASMAC authority).
However, the Bench cautioned that such outlets can only be set up in strict compliance of the applicable law. On this aspect, the Bench has also directed as follows.
…we… direct the respondent authorities that henceforth the location of liquor vending shops in rented premises shall be permitted and located in only such premises that exist by virtue of a valid permission and have a building plan approval in accordance with law. It shall be the obligation of the authority concerned to verify the status of both the land and the premises, as to whether they comply with the said conditions or not. “
The Court further had also taken note that, on directions by the earlier Division Bench, the TASMAC authority had taken extensive surveys concerning liquor shops on agricultural land, pursuant to which 110 liquor shops were also closed and a relocation exercise had been initiated against certain remaining shops.  In view of the same the, Court has directed,
It is also indicated in the affidavits that an exercise has been undertaken, which has not been finalized, for relocating the shops. We direct that unless such exercise is concluded in the light of the observations made herein above, the respondent authorities shall not allow the renting of any liquor vending shop in a premises that does not conform to the Rules and Regulations that are required to be observed in the manner prescribed and as admitted by the fourth respondent itself in the affidavit filed before this Court.”

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