SC will hear to­day if toddy shops come un­der liquor ban

Pe­ti­tion­ers seek ur­gent clar­i­fi­ca­tion from Bench

The Hindu - - SOUTH - Le­gal Cor­re­spon­dent

The Supreme Court will ur­gently hear on Fri­day a batch of pe­ti­tions seek­ing a clar­i­fi­ca­tion on whether toddy can be con­sid­ered as liquor and toddy shops sell­ing the bev­er­age would be in­cluded in the na­tion­wide ban on sale of al­co­hol within 500 me­tres of Na­tional and State high­ways.

A Bench led by Chief Jus­tice of In­dia Di­pak Misra on Thurs­day agreed with ad­vo­cate V.K. Biju and Bina Mad­ha­van, ap­pear­ing for Vaikom Taluk Chethu Thozhi­lali Union (AITUC) and Toddy Shop Li­censes As­so­ci­a­tion, that the pe­ti­tions should be heard ur­gently as it con­cerns the loss of em­ploy­ment of nu­mer­ous vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple who work in the toddy sec­tor.

The ad­vo­cates had men­tioned the case be­fore the Chief Jus­tice Bench af­ter an­other Bench led by Jus­tice Ran­jan Go­goi, on De­cem­ber 5, re­cused it­self from the case. The court had ear­lier is­sued no­tice on the pe­ti­tions.

‘Ban wrongly ex­tended’

Mr. Biju ar­gued that the liquor ban had been wrongly ex­tended to toddy shops.

“Toddy is even ex­empted on dry days [days on which sale of al­co­hol is pro­hib­ited],” Ms. Mad­ha­van sub­mit­ted on be­half of the toddy traders from Ker­ala.

The traders dubbed toddy as a nat­u­ral drink sourced from co­conut trees in the State and with such “minis­cule” al­co­hol con­tent that it can­not be clubbed with any form of liquor.

They sub­mit­ted in court that the ban had led to the clo­sure of toddy shops and af­fected the liveli­hood of an al­ready vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­nity. The traders ar­gued that Ker­ala treats toddy dif­fer­ently from liquor or other al­co­holic drinks.

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