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HomeNationDon't Cancel Bar Licenses Yet, Says Supreme Court to Kerala Government

Don’t Cancel Bar Licenses Yet, Says Supreme Court to Kerala Government

Kerala’s plans to slide into prohibition are being examined by the Supreme Court, which today banned the state government from cancelling the licenses of bars for now.

The court said it will hear the case, filed by an association of bar owners, tomorrow. As of Friday, more than 700 Kerala bars are scheduled to lose their licences, based on the government’s recent decision to turn the state dry within 10 years. Only five-star hotels will be allowed to keep serving booze and even they will have to go dry on Sunday, Chief MinisterOommen Chandy said last month. (No Going Back on New Liquor Policy: Oommen Chandy) But the Supreme Court today questioned the logic of exempting five-stars and said it will deliberate on the policy tomorrow. According to the government’s plans, state-run liquor stores, where men queue up for their daily fix, will be phased out at a rate of 10 per cent a year for the next decade, leaving a big hole in the state coffers after alcohol taxes and fees generated more than $1 billion (around Rs. 6,000 crore) in the 2012-13 financial year.

Bar owners who have taken the government to court say if there is an alcohol ban, tourists will start opting for other regional destinations – perhaps the beaches of nearby Goa or Sri Lanka. A recent survey from travel portal HolidayIQ.com, which polled 5,000 Indians, showed 58 percent of the respondents will change their travel plans because of the new no-boozing policy. There is little denial of an alcohol problem in Kerala, which has the highest consumption levels in India.

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