The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea of liquor manufacturers from Bihar to extend the July 31 deadline for disposing of the old stock over 2.80 lakh bottles of alcoholic beverages outside the state.
A bench of justices Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar turned down the plea of the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Company seeking extension of the time granted by the apex court.
The manufacturers’ group had sought more time to get rid of the liquor stocks on the ground that over 2.8 lakh bottles were still left and would cause immense financial loss to them.
The plea was opposed by advocate Keshav Mohan, who was appearing for the Bihar government.
A vacation bench of the apex court had on June 8 modified its earlier order and allowed the liquor manufacturers to dispose of their old stock worth over Rs 200 crore outside the state by July 31.
The manufacturers had told the bench that there were two issues — destruction of old stocks and export — in the plea filed earlier. The apex court’s May 29 order had mentioned only about time to destroy the stocks.
In the May 29 order, the court had said, “Time to destroy /drain the stocks is extended up to July 31, 2017. It is made clear that no further extension will be granted in future.”
Earlier, the court had extended till May 31 the deadline of April 30 for disposing of the old stocks, including raw material, fixed by the Nitish Kumar government which had imposed a ban on liquor in the state from April 1 last year.
On May 29, the counsel representing the manufacturers, had submitted before the apex court that the firms would be incurring huge losses if they were not allowed to dispose of their existing stocks of alcoholic beverages outside Bihar.
The state government had opposed the demand for extension of time, claiming the firms were indulging in illegal liquor trade.
The apex court had on March 31 granted time till May 31 to these companies to dispose of the old stocks and directed them to follow the resolution passed by the Bihar government on disposal of stocks following the imposition of prohibition in the state.
The Bihar government had on March 30 passed a resolution by which it has allowed the companies to export their old stocks to other states.
The state government had granted time to export the excisable and non-excisable articles till April 30, after which they would not be able to do so.
On October 7, 2016, the apex court had stayed the operation of the Patna High Court judgement quashing the state’s law banning sale and consumption of all types of liquor, saying liquor and fundamental rights “do not go together”.
The Bihar government has challenged the high court verdict of September 30, 2016.
However, after the law was set aside, the Bihar government had come out with a new law banning sale and consumption of liquor which was notified on October 2, 2016.
It had notified the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 to ensure that the ban on sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) as well spiced and domestic liquor, continued in the state.
( Source – PTI )