TASMAC: Full bench of Madras HC to hear today

Chennai: All eyes are on the Madras High Court, as a full Bench of the Madras High Court is scheduled to hear all cases filed against the State government’s decision to reopen TASMAC wine shops, amid the COVID-19 lockdown, today.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justices Vineet Kothari and P N Prakash, will decide on the fate of the functioning of liquor outlets in the State.

Last week, the Tamilnadu government moved the Supreme Court challenging a Madras High Court order for closure of State-run liquor outlets on the ground that there was total violation of guidelines meant to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Madras High Court had on Friday ordered closure of liquor outlets noting that there were huge crowds and no social distancing was being maintained by tipplers. It, however, allowed doorstep delivery of booze through online mode.

The top court too had taken note of crowding at liquor shops and asked states on Friday to consider non-direct contact or online sales and home delivery of liquor during the lockdown period to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The appeal against the high court order has been filed by the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC), a government firm which sells alcoholic beverages in the state, seeking permission to sell liquor through vends also.

The high court order restraining counter-sale of liquor was passed on a miscellaneous petition filed by advocate G Rajesh, besides a plaint from the Kamal Haasan-led Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM).

The HC had said there was total violation of its interim order issued on Wednesday, when it declined to stay a government order allowing resumption of sale of liquor through outlets.

After a dry spell of 43 days due to the COVID-19 lockdown since late March, liquor sales resumed at TASMAC outlets in Tamilnadu, except state capital Chennai, on Thursday last week.

NT Bureau