The State of Odhisa has imposed 50% Covid Fee over the delivery of liquor to home. The State Government has also fixed time for home-delivery of liquor. The timings for home delivery of liquor is between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for now.
The State Governments are aware of the liquor mess that took place after the third lockdown which was announced by the Government of India from 4th of May, 2020. In the third lockdown the liquor shops were allowed to sell liquor keeping in mind the principle of social distancing but indeed the plan drastictly failed. It was very obvious when a man is high he follows no laws, no principles and no rules. He feels himself above all. Therefore, after witnessing such a mess in different States of India various States stopped selling liquor through licensee's counter and tried some other tricks to sell liquor. In the same course the Government of Delhi imposed a Special Corona Fee of 70% on MRP, various lawyers and legal intellects had criticised this step and claimed it to be unconstitutional and ultra-vires but indeed somehow the amendment brought in the Delhi Excise Rules was a success for the Government of Delhi.
In the same era of fetching revenue from the sale of liquor, the Stae of Odhisa has now imposed 50% Special Covid Fee on maximum retail price, indeed it is sometimes difficul for the sellers to sell liquor only on the maximum retail price but the Government of Odhisa had a solution for this also. The State Government has allowed the sale of liquor only through home-delivery system and no counter selling is allowed or permitted. The Special Covid Fee will be applicable to maximum retail price of 2019-2020 fiscal year.
The amendment brought in Odhisa Excise Rules, 2017 all the shops licensee, other than situated in the containment areas or shopping malls, are allowed to deliver liquor to consumers home. The State Government has also declared that whatever extra revenue be collected through the sale of liquor will be utilized for the treatment and rescue of Covid-19 patients.
Indeed again counter-attacks can be made on the delivery of liquor to home. Article 47 of the Constitution of India also imposes a duty on the State to raise the level of nutrition and also to take steps to allow the sale of alcoholic substances or intoxicating substances and drugs only for medicinal purposes. It is though very clear that by delivering liquor to homes the State is putting curtains on its duties which are prescribed in Part IV of the Constitution of India under the Chapter of Directive Principles of State Policy.
Article 47: Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health: The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health
Which law empowers State Government to promote the Sale of Liquor?
This is a very valid question which now-a-days members of legal fraternity as well as common citizens are trying to discuss among their loops. Indeed, a State cannot go beyond the procedures established by law and for that reason, the readers should believe that all the laws which are enforced in the Union of India or in any of the State are Constitutional and not ultra-vires. Before coming on to the answer one should first understand the very essence of Article 47 of the Constitution of India. The Duties given to the State under chapter IV of the Constitution of India are not justiciable and are based on the facilities and resources available with the Government. The term not justiciable means that in case the State is not performing its duties prescribed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of India then the Citizens have no right to get it executed as there are no remedies available to a citezen against that. The constitution makers were of the opinion that the duties are the moral responsibilities of the State. Furthermore, the directive principles are based on the resources available with the State Government and cannot be imposed on hypothetical parameters or on the ground that it shall be performed because it is written in the very grundnorm of the country.
Thus, it is cler that it is the duty of the state to raise the nutrition level but it is not a right of citizen under Article 47 of the Constitution of India. Now, coming on to the answer to the very valid question that what empowers the State Governments to deliver liquor at home or what permits the Governments to promote the sale and purchase of liquor? The answer to this question is the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. Section 2 of the Act permits the State Governments to take any measure in order to tackle epidemic. Thereby, the very section permits the State of Odhisa to impose a Special Covid Fee on the sale of Liquor and to allow the sale and purchase of liquor apart from that of medicinal use.