New Delhi: In a relief to around 700 bar owners in Kerala who were directed to close their shops by the state government, the Supreme Court on Thursday allowed them to operate till September-end and asked the High Court to decide their petition challenging state's new liquor policy.
A bench of justices A R Dave and U U Lalit directed the state government to maintain status quo and asked the Kerala High Court to decide the petitions against liquor policy expeditiously, if possible before September 30.
The bench during the brief hearing agreed that drinking is a social problem but questioned why the state is not stopping it at one go rather than limiting bar licences to only 5-star hotels as part of a move to implement total prohibition in the State in 10 years.
The bar owners, who were present in the jampacked courtroom, came out smiling and congratulating each other, saying "cheers" after getting a breather from the apex court.
The apex court had yesterday agreed to grant an urgent hearing on a plea of aggrieved bar owners.
Under the new policy, the UDF Government had last month decided to shut around 700 bars attached to hotels below five-star categories. It had directed the bar owners to shut their shops down from September 12.