GUWAHATI, Aug 24 � The Gauhati High Court, through an order today, said that those bars and liquor shops with existing licences issued on or before March 13, 2000, can reopen their business from today.
The order comes as a relief for over 120 bars and wine shops in the capital city. There exist over 400 wine shops and bars in Guwahati.
The court, on August 9, had ordered closure of all wine shops and bars situated within a 500-metre radius of educational and religious institutions, courts and health-care centres.
On the question as to whether the closure orders in respect of those with licences issued after March 13, 2000, should continue or not, the High Court would first have the views of the high-power committee, which has been asked to submit a report on September 9.
The court, at the same time, would continue to monitor the functioning of the committee.
The High Court, through an order, has also asked the Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Assam to inform that the Court as to what steps the Government proposes to take against the Excise department officials prima facie responsible for violation of Excise laws while granting licences in Guwahati City.
The Court has also asked the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro) to complete the exercise of preparing of a list of liquor shops, bars, pubs, lounge bars, hotels etc along with the names of the official responsible for granting of such licences.
Advocate Pranab Pathak, who appeared on behalf of IMFL Retailers Association, while stating the relevance of March 13, 2000, said, �In response to six PILs filed between 1999 to 2000 against the mushrooming of wine shops, the Gauhati High Court had issued an order dated March 13, 2000, expressing its reluctance in playing an active role. The Court had stated that �It was the duty of the State Government to ensure compliance of the Excise Act henceforth� and those securing licences before that date should be allowed to operate.
Our Law Reporter adds: The Gauhati High Court after hearing the writ petition (Civil) no 2856 of 2012 filed by Arun Pathak along with other miscellaneous applications filed by the State Government, All Assam IMFL Retailers Association and other individuals modified the earlier orders of August 9 and 10 and directed that licensees existing March 13, 2000 would be entitled to reopen their premises.
The next date of hearing has been fixed for further hearing on September 10.
Advocate BD Konwar appeared on behalf of Arun Pathak, while Niloy Dutta and Pranab Pathak, senior advocates, appeared for the IMFL Retailers Association. KN Choudhury, senior additional advocate general appeared on behalf of the State Government.