In a relief for the J&K government, a division bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court here has directed it to file a comprehensive report by 14 October regarding the relocation of liquor shops near hospitals, religious places, educational institutions and along highways. The High Court also said that total prohibition on sale and consumption of liquor in the state is a “policy decision to be taken by the government”.
The court gave the direction while hearing a PIL seeking a complete ban on the sale and consumption of liquor in the Muslim majority state. The PIL, filed by Karwan-e-Islami, a religious organisation, had appealed to the court to intervene as consumption of liquor was “hurting religious sentiments of the majority community” as it is prohibited in Islam.
The High Court in its order said, “The total prohibition on the sale and consumption of liquor in the state is a policy decision to be taken by the government.” The court’s direction amounts to a relief for the J&K government as it is not inclined to ban liquor as liquor sales earn huge revenue for the state.
The government has sought more time to file a report on the progress of relocation of liquor shops in the state. The government has submitted before the court that it has already issued notices to liquor shops situated at “objectionable places”, including highways. The court had wanted to know the time-frame for the government to relocate liquor shops near hospitals, schools and places of worship.
The demand for ban on the sale and consumption of liquor in this state has been gaining ground as many political parties and separatist leaders, as well as religious organisations, have started a campaign against it.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who heads the Muttaheda Majlis-e-Ulema, has threatened to launch a statewide agitation against the sale of liquor.