Chennai: Observing that liquor is "a poison to the society," the Madras High Court on Wednesday posed a set of 16 questions to the state and central governments, asking how can governments run liquor business when the Constitution advocates total prohibition.
Suo motu impleading the Union Cabinet Secretary, Revenue Secretary, State Government, Managing Director of Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) and DGP, Justice N Kirubakaran posed the questions and directed them to reply on December 11.
The judge, passing interim orders in an accident appeal case, raised questions such as introduction of total prohibition in consonance with Article 47 of the Constitution to protect people from the evils of liquor.
"How is that drinking water is scarce in several villages whereas liquor flows like water in every nook and corner in the country? Does money from liquor outweigh government's duty to ensure public safety and health," the judge asked.
"Even drinking water is scarce in most parts of our country but the other water (Alcohol) flows aplenty in every nook and corner of the nation in which may families are drowning. Liquor is a poison to the society. Liquor is the basic reason for many social evils. In spite of that governments are opening liquor shops/bars as many as possible with sole aim of getting revenue," the judge said.
Raising these questions,the judge said since there is direct connection between liquor and deaths in road accidents, matrimonial disharmony and personal relationships, governments should come forward to limit the number of liquor shops and cap liquor-vending hours to eight hours from 12 hours now.
The judge was passing interim orders on civil miscellaneous appeals filed by one Vizhi and three others against the award passed by Motor Vehicles Accident Tribunal.
When the appeals came up, the judge said the root cause for this kind of accidents is 'drunken driving'. "The facts of this case make the court to go into the issue of drunken driving in detail, as more accidents occur due to the same."
The case relates to an accident in 2011 when two persons--Ramkumar and Arunkumar (riding pillion)-- died when their motorcycle was hit by a bus.
The post-mortem report revealed the presence of alcohol. The Tribunal fixed 20 per cent negligence on the part of the deceased and 80 per cent on the part of the bus diver and passed an award of Rs 9,25,720 in favour of legal heirs of Arunkumar and Rs.11,34,067 in favour of those of Ramkumar.
Not satisfied with the compensation, the dependents filed the appeals.