HC quashes Mizoram govt's prolonged liquor ban order

Aizawl, Jan 29 (PTI) The Aizawl bench of the Gauhati High Court Tuesday quashed the order of the Mizoram government banning sales of liquor from December 21 to March 1, and instructed it to allow vendors to sell alcohol as per the validity of their licences.The sitting judge, Justice Michael Zothankhuma, found the orders of the Commissioner of Excise and Narcotics department declaring the "dry days" for an extended period as "arbitrary" and set the order aside.The judge ordered the state government to allow the owners of the three bonded warehouses to import liquor on the basis of permits and the retail vendors to sell liquor as per the validity of their licences issued under the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Act, 2014.The government's contention that the prolonged dry days were declared due to observance of the Republic Day on January 26 and 'Chapchar Kut', the most prominent traditional festival of the Mizos on March 1, was not accepted by the court saying that the state government could declare dry days on such days in accordance with the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Act, but not for such a long period.The new Mizo National Front (MNF) government headed byChief Minister Zoramthanga, in a meeting of the council of ministers on December 18 last year, had declared dry days from December 21 to January 14.Another meeting of the council of ministers on January 10 decided to extend the dry days from January 15 till March 1 this year.The owners of the bonded warehouses and retail liquor vendors submitted petitions on January 17 challenging the orders of the state government. PTI HCV JM KJ