Battle only begun to prevent long queues outside BEVCO liquor outlets: Kerala HC

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Kochi, Jul 16 (PTI) The Kerala High Court on Friday said the 'battle has only begun' on ensuring there are no serpentine queues outside liquor outlets, run by the Kerala State Beverages(M&M) Corporation Ltd.(BEVCO), so that the collective dignity of society and that of the customers are adequately protected.

Justice Devan Ramachandran said that even though some steps appear to have been taken by the Excise Commissionerate and BEVCO, a lasting solution can be obtained only if they launch a comprehensive audit of the facilities and suitability of each retail liquor outlet in Kerala.

The court also said that the steps have been taken after four years since its judgment of July 5, 2017 directing them to ensure no nuisance is caused to businesses and residents of Kuruppam Road, Thrissur due to a BEVCO outlet there outside which long queues of customers was obstructing ingress and egress of the people residing and working there.

The state government said that the outlet in question at Kuruppam Road, Thrissur, has been ordered to be shifted to another suitable place, along with another counter which was in the vicinity of the high court.

'Certainly, this is a welcome step, but the battle has only begun,' the judge said in response.

Justice Ramachandran further said, 'The Excise Commissioner and BEVCO will certainly have to ensure that every retail counter is accounted for and, as I have already said in the judgment (of 2017), the collective dignity of the society and that of the customers are adequately protected, as is required under the constitutional mandate of this country.' Thehigh court had in its 2017 judgment observed that the sinuous queues of people waiting to buy liquor 'was an affront to the collective dignity of the citizenry of the state'.

'What is violated is not merely self respect of the persons in the queues but also the collective respect of the citizenry as a whole,' it had said.

It had back then directed the Excise Commissionerate and BEVCO to ensure that no nuisance is caused to the petitioners or anyone else in that area due to the liquor outlet.

The court had also suggested to BEVCO to take remedial measures, like having shops or waiting areas for customers so that they do not spill out into public streets and lanes.

As the court's directions had not been complied with, the petitioners moved a contempt plea in which the instant order was passed.

During the hearing on Friday,the Excise Commissioner told the court that both the Excise Commissionerate and BEVCO are now making earnest efforts to ensure that crowding in front of the retail liquor outlets is completely avoided and that the infrastructural facilities of each of such counters are increased.

The Excise Commissioner also agreed with the judge's suggestion to carry out a comprehensive audit of the facilities and suitability of each retail liquor outlet in Kerala and said necessary steps will be taken and the same shall be brought to the court's attention.

The matter was listed for further hearing on July 30 by the court. PTI HMP BN BALA BN BALA

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