Controversy around Kerala's new liquor policy: All you need to know

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Liquor shop in Kerala
The Supreme Court on Thursday will hear a batch of petitions of owners of bars and hotels challenging Kerala Government's decision of limiting bar licences to only 5-star hotels. Owners of hotels affected by State Government's order have filed a petition with the apex court terming the move as discriminatory.

What is Kerala's new liquor policy?

  • As per the policy, only five-star hotels in Kerala can serve liquor. 
  • No renewal of licences for the 418 bars which remain closed now.
  • From April 2015, the existing 318 bars will not get their licences renewed.
  • Every year 10 per cent of beverages corporation outlets will be phased out so in the next 10 years, all of them will be shut down.
  • Bars and Bevco outlets will remain shut on Sundays and every first day of the month.
  • A rehab package for habitual drinkers and bar employees, Punarjani, to be set up.

Effects of the liquor policy

  • The new liquor policy is aimed at shutting down bars attached to hotels below the five-star category.
  • The policy is aimed at reducing availability of liquor in the State. 
  • It will led to shut down of 730 bars across the State, branding them as 'sub-standard".
  • The ban order comes into force from September, 11.

Drinking a disease in Kerala! What data say?

  • Kerala is India's tippler State. It has the highest per capita consumption - over eight litres (1.76 gallons) per person a year.
  • In 2010, Kerala consumed 11.1 litre of alcohol per person, almost 3 times the national average of 4.3 litre per person.
  • A Economic Survey Review, 2012, showed that liquor consumption in Kerala was more than 1.76 gallons per person, followed by Maharastra and Punjab. 
  • A 2011 report by one of India's largest trade bodies found that Kerala accounted for 16% of national alcohol sales, the largest proportion of any State.

Legal hiccup in the liquor policy?

  • The Supreme Court sees no logic in Kerala banning sale of liquor at bars and hotels below 5-star category.
  • The apex court prevents State Government from taking any coercive step until next hearing.
  • The court on Thursday will take up the hearing a batch of petitions challenging the State Government's order.
  • The petitions have described the move as discriminatory, besides an unlawful curtailment of their right to earn livelihood by carrying out their trade.
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