The Madras High Court has said that state-run TASMAC can open liquor vending shops in buildings constructed on agricultural land if mandated approvals are obtained. However, the court observed that vending of liquor is an obnoxious trade and it has social and moral dimensions and consequently the restrictions placed by law have to be abided by in the strict sense.
The first bench, comprising Chief Justice A P Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad also directed the authorities concerned to ensure that location of liquor vending shops in rented premises should be permitted and located in only premises that exist by virtue of a valid permission and have a building plan approval as per law. It would be the obligation of the authority concerned to verify the status of both the land and the premises, as to whether they comply with the conditions or not,the court said.
The issue pertains to a PIL moved by Mallasamy Nachimuthu, seeking a direction to the Erode District collector to remove a TASMAC shop located in Mylambadi village on farm land within the time stipulated by the court.
On February 13, when the plea was heard by a different division bench, the court had observed that the sanctity of a place which gives food, justice (courts), health (hospitals), worship (temple/mosque/church), education (schools, colleges or universities) and such other places are to be preserved for that purpose and should not be used for commercial purpose or for earning revenue. Agricultural field is a place worshipped by farmers and to be respected and not to be used for earning revenue through liquor, the bench had said.
The plea was opposed by the land owner, who submitted that there cannot be a total ban or prohibition of the location of a liquor vending shop over agricultural land under the Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act or the Tamil Nadu Liquor Retail Vending (In Shops and Bars) Rules.No such prohibition stands incorporated so as to exclude a premise from being used as a liquor vending shop in the event it is situated over an agricultural land, she contended.