Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 13: The Congress party in Kerala is up in arms over reports that the ruling LDF is likely to file a petition in the Supreme Court over its order on shifting of liquor outlets. State Congress President V M Sudheeran told reporters on Monday that this is nothing but seeking time to delay implementing of the apex court order.
The Supreme Court in December last year banned the sale of liquor on highways, forcing them to relocate to interior areas. The order has forced around 300 such outlets comprising beer and wine parlours, five star hotels and state owned liquor retail outlets to look for new places by the beginning of the new fiscal.
"The Supreme Court order is quite clear and there is no ambiguity as aired by the Kerala government. These are all nothing but playing truant as the state government wants to delay implementing the order. The government through these tactics is inviting protests," Sudheeran added.
Due to the directive, more than 170 retail outlets of the state-owned Kerala State Beverages Corporation have to be moved out latest by March 31.
The Kerala State Beverages Corporation is to approach the apex court seeking more time to move their outlets.
Senior Communist Party of India leader Benoy Viswam voiced his displeasure over the statements of the Congress party.
"Everybody knows about the series of controversies that broke out during their tenure with regards to the bar, so it's better that they do not speak much. While the left government agenda is for pursuing a policy of abstinence from liquor, one thing that needs to be looked at seriously is if this rule is applicable to toddy shops. To the best of my knowledge, pure toddy has medicinal properties and hence it has to be treated differently," said the former Minister.
The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government was caught unaware when massive protests broke out earlier this month against liquor shops relocating to residential areas. School children too took part in the protests.
Following the protests, the liquor vends have not been able to relocate.
Former lawmaker Sebastian Paul, of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, has defended the action of the state government by pointing out that there is nothing wrong in seeking clarity.