The Uttarakhand High Court has given the state government six months to formulate a policy to implement provisions of the Excise Act which provide for prohibition of alcohol in the state.
A division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma directed the state government on Thursday to take a policy decision for gradual prohibition of alcohol, petitioner DK Joshi, an advocate said.
The high court has given six months to the state government, he said.
Besides asking the state government to ensure compliance of section 37 A of the Excise Act which provides for prohibition, the court also ordered strict compliance of the law prohibiting sale of alcohol to a person under 21 years of age.
The order came on a PIL filed by Joshi, an advocate and a resident of Garuda in Bageshwar district.
It was contended in the PIL that liquor sold under government protection is affecting lives in the state.
Many households have been destroyed by the social evil and no compensation has been made for casualties, diseases and accidents caused by alcohol consumption, the PIL said.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Excise Act, 1910, was amended by the UP government through 37A in 1978, but the Uttarakhand government did not implement this amendment. Even after 19 years of the creation of the state, no preventive steps have been taken towards prohibition of alcohol through this provision, the PIL submitted.
On the contrary, the state government has registered an increasing number of shops in the name of revenue. The Excise Policy of 2019 gives special power to the District Magistrate to ensure that no area of the district is deprived of a liquor store, it said.
The government for its part assured the court that in the year 2002, many restrictions had been imposed in the Excise Policy which were being duly followed.
For instance, alcohol has been banned in religious places of the state including Haridwar, Rishikesh, Chardham, Purnagiri and Piran Kaliyar. Prescribed distance from school, college and temple mosque has also been maintained.
Describing the verdict as historic, senior advocate VP Nautiyal, appearing for the petitioner, said the court has given the government six months to formulate a policy to implement the provisions of 37A.
"The high court has given a historic decision to awaken the state government. It will curb growing trend of alcoholism in the state," he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)