Aiming at reducing liquor consumption, Kerala high court has suggested prohibition of liquor sales and its consumption till 5pm and also sought penal provisions to dissuade people from hitting the bottle during day time.
The suggestions in this regard were put forth by a division bench, comprising Justice C N Ramachandran Nair and Justice C K Abdul Rehim, yesterday, while dismissing a plea filed by government challenging a single judge's verdict.
The government had prescribed separate timings for bars in panchayat and corporation areas, which was challenged by bar owners. The single judge had upheld their plea.
The bench held that providing liquor in the morning in every bar hotel would certainly encourage drinking during working hours which would not only affect work, but would lead to alcoholism as well.
It also asked government to make penal provisions against consumption of alcohol during day time.
Alcohol is consumed while people relax in the evening after their work. No man in his right senses would consume alcohol while at work. But those in the habit of excessive drinking turned out to be alcoholics in course of time and would reach a stage at which only alcohol would keep them normal, the bench observed.
The 'Abkari policy' need not be directed towards total prohibition, but it should encourage people to develop healthy and refined habits in drinking befitting of a civilised society which has no place for both physically and mentally degenerated alcoholics.
Instances of liver cirrhosis, crime committed by alcoholics were on the rise, the court said, adding, government should consider restraining consumption and sale of liquor till 5pm.
The bench, however, admitted that this was a policy matter and government alone could take a decision.
The government said it was in favour of the suggestion, but did not want to take a decision in a hurry.
The court's suggestion comes hardly a week after it sought a ban on toddy and save the poor from the evils of alcohol.
Kerala tops in per capital consumption of liquor whose sales last fiscal had crossed Rs 7000 crore and this year it is expected to touch Rs 8000 crore.
During 'Onam' festival on August 29 and 30, liquor worth Rs 70 crore was sold.