The Tamil Nadu government has come up with a set of rules after the Supreme Court allowed liquor shops to reopen in the state. A token system will be implemented and only 500 tokens will be given at each liquor shop everyday. The shops will be open from 10am to 5pm and masks are mandatory for customers. There will be no sale of liquor in COVID-19 hotspots Chennai and Thiruvallur besides malls and containment zones, the state said.
The Supreme court today stayed an order by the Madras High Court that allowed only online sales of liquor amid the coronavirus pandemic. Other conditions for buying liquor such as showing Aadhaar card and limiting the number of bottles have been eased.
The Supreme Court also issued notice to the petitioners on whose plea the Madras High Court had banned sale of liquor at shops.
Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing Tamil Nadu, said the state has already put into place guidelines on social distancing and other safety measures.
"The problem is the High Court imposed its own restrictions. The High Court cannot encroach upon the domain of policymaking. It is the state's prerogative how to sell liquor. Why should a person need an Aadhaar card to buy liquor? Why digital payment? It's impossible for the state to decide how to sell," Mr Rohatgi said.
The petitioners said selling liquor is not a fundamental right but a commercial activity. "We are not seeking a total ban. Precautionary methods have to be followed," the petitioners said in their plea.
The Tamil Nadu government on May 8 approached the Supreme Court challenging the High Court's order over the grounds that closing liquor shops would lead to "grave losses" in revenue and complete stop in commercial activities.