HC permits restaurants to sell alcohol after 5.30 pm tomorrow (counting day) after bar owners' plea requesting relaxation in timings

Replying to a writ petition filed by the Indian Hotel & Restaurant Association (AHAR) jointly with Maharashtra Wine Merchants' Association (MWMA), Judge Shri Syed of Bombay HC passed an order allowing permit room hotels and wine shops to open their establishment after 5.30 pm in the city on counting day.

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The petition was filed against an order issued by the Mumbai collector dated January 25 and February 3 where the collector has directed all country liquor and foreign liquor shops, permit rooms, wine bars, club licence holders and beer bar licence holders to remain shut from February 15 to February 17 on account of BMC elections.

"Since the Excise Department had already passed the order of three consecutive dry days, we had no option but to move court. We had demanded relaxation at least in the evening of both voting and counting day.

However, the court has agreed to give us some respite on counting day," said Sudhakar Shetty, president, AHAR.

MiD DAY had recently reported ('Shorten dry days ahead of polls', February 4) how several bar owners had written to the Excise Ministry asking them to relax the dry day timings for the upcoming civic polls citing low business due to rise in various taxes and relentless crackdowns from police that has marred their business.

"Closure of wine shops and bars would have led to increased bootlegging in the state. Our industry is already reeling under various added taxes," added Shetty.

Pleased with the court decision Arvind Miskin, president, MWMA, said, "We appreciate that the court has passed the order in our favour. The court has given us the opportunity to make some business. Letting us remain open for a few hours is a good thing, especially when the industry is already tottering under losses due to decrease in consumption because of high prices of alcohol."