Srinagar, Mar 22: The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh closed a plea seeking closure of liquor shops and establishments besides rehabilitating those engaged in this business while observing that it cannot enforce the directive principles of State policy and direct the respondents to enforce strict prohibition in UT of J&K.
A division bench comprising Justices Sanjeev Kumar and Puneet Gupta said that the trade in liquor in the UT of J&K is regulated by the J&K Excise Act and the rules framed therein.
The bench said that the government is empowered to frame Excise policy to regulate such trade within four corners of Excise Act and rules framed therein.
"That being the position, this petition, by the efflux of time is rendered infructuous. The petitioner, however, if feels aggrieved by the Excise policy in vogue or Excise policy, which is issued for the next financial year, shall be well within its right to make his grievance by setting up specific case against any of the terms and conditions of the policy," the court said.
The court was hearing a plea by Manzoor Ahmad Dar seeking recall of the order passed by the division bench of the court on October, 27, 2015, in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which was filed by Karwani Islami Society, registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1998, seeking direction to the erstwhile State of J&K, to take necessary steps for prohibition of sale and consumption of liquor in the erstwhile State of J&K.
The petitioner had also sought directions to the respondents to close all such shops and establishments where liquor is stored and sold and to rehabilitate those engaged in the business of storing and selling of liquor by providing them alternate means of livelihood.
Earlier in 2015, the division bench while disposing of the PIL held that it was not permissible under law to issue writ of mandamus to enforce strict prohibition in the then State of J&K.
The court noted that Article 47 of the Constitution of India, which was strongly relied upon by the petitioner in the PIL was held not enforceable through the Court of law, being one of the directive principles of the State policy.
The division bench, however, had taken note of the then Excise policy, promulgated by the respondents and directed them to enforce the same in letter and spirit.
The court said that this was the position existing in the year 2015. "Several Excise policies have been issued thereafter. As a matter of fact, respondents are coming up with new Excise policy every year."
The court while disposing of the PIL in 2015 had also given liberty to the petitioner or any person, who is affected or interested in the implementation of the restriction/regulations, to approach the Court for appropriate direction.
The bench noted that it seems that taking cue from aforesaid direction, the petitioner has filed this petition.
"Be that as it may, we reiterate that this Court cannot, by issuing writ of mandamus, enforce the directive principles of State policy and direct the respondents to enforce strict prohibition in the Union Territory of J&K," the bench said.
Closing the plea, the court said that the instant petition, which has otherwise outlived its purpose, is rendered infructuous and, therefore, no directions as prayed for in the petition are called for.