HC directs Tamil Nadu to form a committee to check liquor consumption

Chennai, June 18: The Madras High Court on Friday directed the state government to form a committee to check the menace of alcohol consumption, particularly among the youth, and submit a status report within two months.

The court’s response came when Advocate General AL Somayaji submitted that a committee will be formed in this regard. However, the court said mere formation of a committee itself may not suffice to monitor the holistic scheme of how to reduce alcohol consumption.

“This is so as lot of private organisation and voluntary agencies worked in these social sectors and may have both information and solution,” it said and pointed out that only a coordinated effort can be successful.

The matter relates to a PIL filed by Advocates Forum for Social Justice represented by K Balu, its President, also an advocate of the PMK party, seeking a direction to give effect to the recommendations and measures set out in the ‘Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014’.

“We expect the committee to be constituted within a maximum period of two weeks from today. The committee to submit a status report on the action taken within two months of its constitution,” the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, said.

Disposing of the petition, the bench said “No further directions are required, except that it should be a court monitored process at least initially till the system starts working of its own.”

When the matter came up, the petitioner brought to the knowledge of the court that the toll free prohibition helpline no:10581 was ineffective.

The bench went through the affidavit filed by Apurva Varma, Principal Secretary to Home, Prohibition and Excise Department, in response to the PIL narrating steps taken in respect of the World Health Organization report and heard the Advocate General’s submission.

The bench said though the AG has cited various aspects of the ‘Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, 2014’ being implemented in different forms, “the ground reality is quite different. It cannot be disputed that there is large consumption of alcohol and there is need to check this habit especially in two sectors one the under aged sector and another where essential family means are diverted to purchase of alcohol.”

To prevent liquor consumption among the ‘under aged sector,’ the bench suggested that personnel demand identity cards of such persons, who they suspect are underage, at the liquor sale depots.

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