The Gujarat High Court made the observation while suggesting to the Centre that it is "high time" it considers denotifying the Union Territory (UT) of Daman and merging it with Gujarat for effective implementation of the Prohibition Act. Gujarat has remained a dry state since 1960.
Justice JB Pardiwala, in an order passed recently, observed that the "prohibition policy in Gujarat has not been able to yield positive results," and said that "either the policy is not effective or something is wrong with the implementation of the law."
The court said this while dismissing a set of petitions filed by licenced liquor vendors from Daman seeking quashing of FIRs lodged against them by Gujarat police after people caught with liquor under Bombay Prohibition Act in the state showed them as suppliers.
"I take judicial notice of the fact that the prohibition policy in the state of Gujarat has not been able to yield positive results," Justice Pardiwala said in the order.
"One may not find an open bar on a public street, but the number of cases, as on date, pending in different courts in the state of Gujarat, bears eloquent testimony to the fact that either the policy is not effective or something is wrong with the implementation of the law," he said.
"Out of 3,99,221 criminal cases pending as on February 28, 2017 in the state of Gujarat, 55,645 cases are under the Bombay Prohibition Act," he said.
The court further said that prohibition policy in Gujarat has not worked also because of the easy entry points in Gujarat for liquor.
The court further observed "It is high time that the central government considers denotifying Daman as a part of the UT and make it a part of the state of Gujarat so as to make the Prohibition Act applicable, which may have its own effect, and more particularly, after the recent amendment in the Act, providing more stringent provisions.
"It is for the Central Government to consider the issue at the earliest before it is too late in the day."
The petitioners, who were made co-accused by Gujarat police in FIRs for allegedly supplying liquors to accused under Prohibition Act, argued that while selling liquor, they cannot say if they are meant to be transported to Gujarat and sold there illegally.
They also argued that since Bombay Prohibition Act has limited application to the state of Gujarat, it should not be made applicable to licenced vendors from Daman.
While dismissing their plea quashing of FIRs lodged against them, the court however allowed them to again approach the court in case the chargesheet filed against them have no legal evidence connecting them with the alleged offence except the statements of the co-accused.