New Delhi: In a big setback for the members of Kerala Bar Hotel Association, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the state government's policy restricting the sale and consumption of liquor at the bars in five star hotels only and ejecting other hotels serving liquor at bars from the business.
The apex court, while upholding the Kerala High Court's March 31 ruling on the issue, dismissed a batch of petitions filed by hotel bars association challenging the state government's new excise policy which confines bar licences only to five-star hotels.
The ruling was passed by the apex court bench of Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh.
The apex court bench had reserved its order on August 27 after long arguments spread over many days wherein the Kerala government, defending its policy, had said that those ousted from the business had no fundamental right to continue selling liquor at the bar.
The batch of petitions by the Kerala Bar Hotel Association and others had contended that the new policy that permitted only the five star hotels to sell and serve liquor bars in their hotels was discriminatory to other hotels.
The liquor policy restricting the sale and consumption of liquor at the bar benefited 24 five-star hotels in the state and it was upheld by the Kerala High Court on March 31.
Defending the ban on the service of liquor at the bar below the five star hotels, Kerala government had contended that the liquor was available on the retail outlets and people can buy and drink at their homes.
The top court had on September 11, 2014 asked Kerala High Court to decide the challenge to the notification directing the bar owners below the five star hotels to shut their business. The high court by its March 31 order had upheld the policy, terming drinking at bar a luxury.