Decided on January 07,2016

Rajendrakumar And Ors. Appellant


- (1.) All Petitioners in these writ petitions are aggrieved by the declaration of Chandrapur as a dry district. The fact that they have licenses or permits issued by the Licensing Authority under the Maharashtra Prohibition Act, 1949 (Act XXV of 1949 ormerly Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949) which are put to an end because of this declaration and hence, their locus to file the challenge is not in dispute. Maharashtra Prohibition Act, 1949 is hereafter referred to as the Prohibition Act. In Writ Petition No. 1360 of 2015 which has been argued as a lead matter, prayer is to quash and set aside the order dated 5.3.2015 issued by Respondent No.1 declaring Chandrapur to be the dry district w.e.f. 1.4.2015 by enforcing prohibition in that district in general public interest. It is claimed to be violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. From that day in exercise of its powers under Section 139(1) of the Maharashtra Prohibition Act, 1949 (Act XXV of 1949 ormerly Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949), State prohibited issuing of the licenses of types as specified in Schedule. State also clarified for removal of doubt that from said date, licenses in force shall stand canceled on taking action under Section 56(1) of the Act. Other prayer in Petition is to quash and remove the words "in any area" occurring in Section 139(1)(a) as null and void as they permit the State to prohibit the grant of licenses only in such smaller area and violate Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Declaration that after enactment of the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951 under entry 52 of the VIIth Schedule to the Constitution, as alcohol is covered under entry 26 of 1st Schedule, the Maharashtra Prohibition Act, to the extent it controls the alcohol industries, is rendered ultra vires in view of Article 246 read with Article 254 of the Constitution of India, is also sought. However, during arguments no such contention was raised and our attention was not drawn either to the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951 or to the Articles 246 and 254.
(2.) Prayers in Writ Petition Nos. 1366, 1367 and 1419 of 2015 are only about the order dated 5.3.2015 and its validity. There is no prayer for declaring any statutory provisions bad. Prayer clause in Writ Petition 2120 of 2015 is on same lines. Prayer clause (a) in WP 1518 of 2015 is to issue writ of certiorari to quash order dated 5.3.2015 as it is arbitrary, unreasonable and based on misrepresentation of the facts. Mandamus to the Respondents not to violate Article 14, qua the residents of Chandrapur is also sought. Prayer clause (b) is not very clear but it seeks quashing of Section 139(1) (a) as ultra vires and also unconstitutional, on account of not mentioning the "prohibition in the interest of general public" being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Appointment of a Committee under the supervision of this Court to ascertain the true facts, desire of the general public to safeguard their constitutional rights. However, the Petitioners have not taken any pains to throw light on the exact meaning of or nature of relief under these prayer clauses.
(3.) Part of Chandrapur district as such constitutes a special area in the light of Section 1 of the Prohibition Act read with its Appendix 1A. Two adjacent Districts in State of Maharashtra viz. Gadchiroli and Wardha are already dry districts, where the State Government has decided not to part with its absolute privilege and not to make any exceptions by issuing the licenses. Government claims that this exercise is seriously jeopardized because of the availability of liquor legally in Chandrapur which borders the both. Part of Chandrapur also is a tribal undeveloped or under-developed area. Sizable women folk therein have sought total prohibition. Several Gram Panchayats have also passed the resolutions and demanded ban on alcohol. The movement to impose total prohibition by withdrawing the exceptions or the concessions allowed and urging the State not to part with by reclaiming the privileges is going on since 2010 i.e., when the present political party was not in power. It and its associate political party have been elected to power in 2014.;

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