KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed on Wednesday the additional advocate-general (AAG) to submit a list of wholesalers who operate liquor stores as well as the methodology by which they operate in the province.
SHC Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, who headed the two-judge bench, sought these details by October 27. The bench was hearing a petition seeking the cancellation of licences granted to 'wine shops' in Defence and Clifton. The petitioner, Shaharyar David, contended that the shops are operating in Muslim-populated areas without any justification. Therefore, he had requested the court to direct the excise and taxation department to submit details of the licences granted to liquor shops and cancel them.
On September 18, the court had directed the head of the excise and taxation department to begin the process of revoking licences granted to liquor shops throughout the province, observing that they had been granted illegally.
The court had observed that there was no provision under Section 17 of the Prohibition (Enforcement of Hadd) Order, 1979 which allowed granting of general licences to liquor shops to sell alcoholic beverages throughout the year.
CJ Shah had further observed that only non-Muslims could be provided liquor for consumption, that too only for religious ceremonies after they had filed a request in advance, along with supporting evidence from their religious bodies.
On Wednesday, the matter was taken up to observe progress.
AAG Ghulam Mustafa Mahesar produced a report regarding the compliance of the September 18 orders. Mahesar informed the court that in compliance of the court's directives, the excise department had served show-cause notices to owners of 160 liquor shops, both functional and non-functional, across Sindh.
According to the report, show-cause notices were also served to the owners of 65 liquor shops in Karachi. The report states that in District South, there are 25 functional liquor shops and also listed the dates on which each licence was issued.
CJ Shah observed in the order that Mahesar has filed a statement in compliance with the court's order.
"However, it appears that the notices as well as the list of retail liquor shops have been provided, whereas the lists are totally silent about the wholesalers of the liquor shops."
Therefore, the bench directed the advocate-general to provide a list of the wholesalers of liquor shops and the methodology by which such wholesale liquor shops operate. The hearing was then adjourned till October 27.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2016.
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