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Kerala HC fines petition ₹50,000 for asking for home delivery of alcohol amid COVID-19 pandemic: Report

The Kerala High Court slapped a ₹50,000 fine on a petitioner who asked for direction to the Kerala Beverages Corporation to make potable alcohol available for delivery through online platforms in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, LiveLaw reported. Jyothish G., the petitioner, had argued that since liquor outlets are crowded, it was unsafe for him during the COVID-19 pandemic to visit them. Thus, there should be an alternate way for customers to get alcohol, he said. Justice A.K. Jayasankaran instead dismissed the petition “with the contempt it deserves”, stating that the petitioner was selfish and that his “obsession with perceived ‘right’ blinds them to the obligatory ‘duty’ that they owe to their fellow citizens”.

Justice Jayasankaran also said that the court is operating with restrictions — courts in Kerala are only hearing matters of urgent importance — to ensure fundamental rights to citizens, at risk to judges, lawyers, and court staff; those bringing cases to the court should be sensitive to their fellow citizens’ interests “at the very least”.

According to LiveLaw, the petitioner’s counsel sought permission to withdraw the petition, but the court imposed the cost, stating that the petitioner “cannot be let away lightly” “for the said reckless, insensitive, and insolent action”. The costs were directed to be paid to the the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund.

Karnataka HC ruled against online alcohol delivery

In September 2019, the Karnataka High Court had ruled against online liquor delivery service HipBar, stating that excise laws did not permit such businesses. HipBar had approached the court after the Karnataka Excise Department withdrew permission to carry out home delivery of liquor without any show cause notice.

The court ruled that the younger people, including underage kids, are “succumbing to the temptation of liquor”. Eligibility of age and sound mind to receive/consume liquor is difficult to monitor with trade being carried out by the petitioner,” the court had ruled.

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