Facing Opposition backlash for decision to serve alcohol at public events, Tamil Nadu amends order

Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai said in a statement that this was an effort to increase the income of distilleries run by DMK leaders.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Apr 24, 2023 | 8:01 PM Updated Apr 25, 2023 | 1:41 AM

Facing Opposition backlash for decision to serve alcohol at public events, Tamil Nadu amends order

Facing severe backlash from all quarters for its decision to allow the serving and consumption of liquor in public functions in Tamil Nadu, the DMK government made some changes to the order.

The DMK government issued a notification dated 18 March, amending the Tamil Nadu Liquor (Licence and Permit) Rules of 1981 to allow the serving of Indian Made Foreign Spirits and Imported Foreign Liquor to guests, visitors, and participants, at international and national summits and events like conferences, celebrations, and festivals.

According to the amendment, a special licence would be granted annually by the deputy commissioner or assistant commissioner of the Excise Department to supply liquor in commercial premises like conference halls, convention centres, marriage halls, banquet halls, and sports stadiums.

Further, a no-objection certificate from the commissioner of police, for events held within corporation limits and from the superintendent of police for events held in districts, should be obtained.

Late evening on Monday, 24 April, the Tamil Nadu government announced that it had removed marriage halls and banquet halls from the list of commercial premises where liquor was allowed to supply.

Also read: Karnataka sticks to 21-year minimum age limit for alcohol

Minister says no liquor in marriage halls

Last week, Minister for Electricity, Prohibition, and Excise V Senthil Balaji announced in the Tamil Nadu Assembly that the government would be deciding on the closure of 500 liquor shops across the state within this year.

The minister also said that 96 shops run by the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Limited (Tasmac) had been found to be in violation of the norms after the DMK assumed power.

There are 5,329 retail liquor shops run by Tasmac in the state.

Interestingly, the new amendment specifies that licence holders shall obtain their supplies of liquor from the Tasmac shops and its wholesale depots in the state, or from such other sources as the licence issuing officer may, in special cases, appoint or approve subject to such terms and conditions as he may deem fit to impose.

Meanwhile, Minister Senthil Balaji told reporters earlier on Monday that although the Government Order (GO) specifically said special licences would be granted to marriage and banquet halls, the authorities would not give permission to serve liquor in marriage halls.

“We are following the norms that other states are following. The IPL management had sought permission to serve liquor in the stadiums during the matches. Considering such international sports and events, we have decided to grant permission,” the minister said.

Also read: Kerala alcohol sale skyrockets in Onam week

BJP condemns, PMK moves court

Opposition parties condemned the move of allowing special liquor permits.

Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai said in a statement that this was an effort to increase the income of distilleries run by DMK leaders.

“The DMK came to power by giving assurances that it would close liquor factories and retail shops, but Tasmac is trying to boost the sale of liquor each year by fixing a ceiling limit without bothering about the people. This move will lead to social disorder,” Annamalai said.

Meanwhile, the Pattali Makkal Katchi filed a public interest litigation at the Madras High Court.

The spokesman of the party, Advocate K Balu, termed the move “highly condemnable”.