ISLAMABAD: A petition filed on behalf of eight alcohol dealers from Sindh challenged on Monday the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) ruling to revoke all liquor shop licences and suspend their operations until the Supreme Court (SC) weighed in on the matter.
The appeal, moved by veteran lawyer Asma Jahangir, argued that the SHC verdict had jeopardised the livelihoods of more than 24,000 people affiliated with the business.
Sindh High Court orders shutdown of liquor shops
On October 27, the SHC ordered authorities concerned to cancel licences of all liquor shops operating in the province and issue fresh licenses after detailed scrutiny.
The high court also declared that licences granted to wine shops on the pretext that liquor is needed in religious ceremonies of non-Muslims under Article 17 of the Hadd Order was unlawful.
She stated that the high court had sought the opinion of only three religious leaders while declaring that none of the minorities consumed liquor during any religious ceremony.
The counsel contended that the high court did not consider the views of all religious minorities living in Sindh, including the Parsi community.
Calling the petitioners’ law abiding citizens, she stated that they had paid duties amounting to more than Rs3 billion in 2015 alone.
As a result of the cancellation of the petitioners’ licences, people had started consuming unlicenced and unregulated alcohol, resulting in several deaths across the province.
Stating that the decisions of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) were binding on the high court by virtue of Article 203 GG of the Constitution, she contended that the high court ignored various dictums of Federal Shariat Court while passing its October 27 order.
Report sought on wine shop in ‘Muslim-majority’ area
According to the petition, the SHC erred in holding that liquor could be sold to non-Muslim foreigners for religious ceremonies only, adding that restrictions only applied to sales made to non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan and not to non-Muslim foreigners under the law.
The petition contended that the high court failed to correctly interpret its jurisdiction under Article 199 of the Constitution, whereby it is not empowered to assume suo motu jurisdiction to exercise its powers.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2016.
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