Distributive policy

Supreme Court refuses to hear argument on liquor regulation

The seat of the Supreme Court including UU Chief Justice Lalit, Justices Ravindra Bhat and Indira Banerjee refused to hear the plea filed by BJP Chief and Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay to ban or regulate the production, distribution and consumption of intoxicating liquor in NCT Delhi state.

Initially, the bench noted that the issue was about policymaking and not something for the court to rule on.

However, lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay pushed further and said he was asking for limited relief from the existence of mandatory warning labels on alcoholic beverages, just like there were labels on cigarette packs. He stated-

(Alcoholic) drinks are as harmful as cigarettes. Cigarettes are also not in the Constitution, but there are warning labels on them. I ask for limited relief to have a warning label on drinks as well…hope this helps people, especially young people.

However, the bench was not convinced by the submission and reiterated that it was a matter of policy and advised lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay to withdraw the petition otherwise the bench would reject it. CJI Lalit further remarked–

Some people say that drinks taken in small amounts can be good for your health. Nobody says that about cigarettes. This is a matter of policy, please understand.

The petitioner asked for freedom to withdraw the case and go to the Law Commission. No freedom to approach the Law Commission was granted, but freedom to withdraw the petition was granted.

CASE TITLE: Ashwini Kumar v UOI & Ors WP(C) No. 649/2020 PIL