The Hindu

Prove toddy is not liquor: SC tells Kerala

Plea sought exemption from highway ban

- Krishnadas rajagopal

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Kerala government to prove that toddy could not be considered liquor for being exempted from the court’s ban on liquor sale within 500 metres of the National and State Highways nationwide.

Appearing before a Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, counsel for Kerala and senior advocate V. Giri called toddy a “milled liquor.” He said the scarcity of space in the small and heavily populated State made it almost impossible to shift toddy-shops away from the highways.

The Supreme Court posted the case to February 16.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandr­an and advocate Bina Madahvan, for Toddy Shop Licences Associatio­n, said that in its affidavit, the State had already concluded that toddy was not a dangerous liquor and no dangerous incidents like drunken driving stemmed from it. Mr. Ramachandr­an wanted toddy exempted from the ban.

‘Full of vitamins’

The State called toddy a “very mild alcoholic beverage” full of vitamins and used in traditiona­l dishes.

Mr. Ramachandr­an said the court’s ban on liquor shops along the highways was meant to curb drunken driving.

Extending it to the toddy sector would result in thousands in Kerala losing their traditiona­l occupation. So far, the ban had affected the livelihood of 3,078 toddytappe­rs and closed 520 toddy shops, he said.

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