Bar Licenses to stay only with Five-Star Hotels – Kerala HC

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The Kerala High Court said it would not intervene in the new liquor policy brought in by the Congress government in power. This would essentially mean that all liquor bar hotel in the state, save those in five-star hotels, are set to become dysfunctional.

As per the government’s decision, from April 2, 2015 onwards, only the 24 five-star hotels across the state would be allowed to serve Indian-made-foreign-liquor (IMFL) after the annual liquor license of all other hotels expired on March 31.

Not only that, the Kerala HC  also ratified the diluted segments in the new liquor policy that allows the 300-dd bar hotels to stop the sale of hard liquor but continue operating as beer parlors. In addition, the court also nullified a previous single-bench order that allowed bars in four-star as well as heritage category hotels.

It is worth noting here that a significant chunk of all the 418 bars closed since April 2014 are currently operating as wine and beer parlor since a change in the liquor policy was incorporated in last December.

The division bench, while hearing a bunch of pleas moved by the government and bar owners, came to the conclusion that it could not intervene in the government policy as it was aimed at public welfare.

Justifying its stand on the issue, the court stated that “right to drink” was by no means a fundamental right, adding that bar owners need not be concerned about the loss of revenue the state government will have to cope with.

The Kerala government, quite predictably, hailed the verdict by the High Court. However, the association of bar hotel owners said they would soon appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court of India.


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