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Posted at: Mar 9, 2018, 1:54 AM; last updated: Mar 9, 2018, 1:54 AM (IST)

Bill must for liquor purchase, says HC

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab and Haryana governments to make it obligatory for vends to provide bills for liquor purchases.

“We consider it appropriate that the state governments of Haryana and Punjab make it obligatory for the liquor vendors to issue invoices for all sales effected by them from their vends with effect from 2018-19,” the Bench of Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal and Justice Anupinder Singh Grewal asserted.

The direction came as the Bench allowed a petition filed in public interest by Arrive Safe Society of Chandigarh through its president Harman Singh Sidhu. Among other things, the society was seeking directions to the respondents to make a provision in the upcoming Excise Policy for 2018-19 regarding issuance of computerised bills at all liquor vends across Haryana and Punjab.

Sidhu had asserted that the exercise was required to be carried out prior to the auction of liquor vends for the next financial year.

Referring to the respondents’ plea that a policy decision should not be interfered with by the court in exercise of its judicial review, the Bench asserted that the excise policy was, in fact not a policy which could not be interfered with at all.

For framing such a policy, various factors have to be kept in mind like public safety, public health and welfare of society at large. It was well settled that when a policy framed by the state was contrary to public interest or was violative of the constitutional principles, it was the court’s duty to exercise its jurisdiction in larger public interest and reject the state’s stock plea that the scope of judicial review should not be exceeded beyond the recognised principles.

“Courts can interfere to modify such policy by inclusion of any specific clause therein which can be made mandatory. This type of interference does not amount to assumption of legislative function by the court,” the Bench asserted.

It added that the government had already included a clause in the Excise Policy 2017-18 for issuance of invoices for sale exceeding Rs 1,000. Invoice was to be issued on demand, where sales were less than Rs 1,000.

“Giving directions for issuance of bills for every transaction irrespective of the amount of sale whether demanded or not does not interfere with the policy decision of the state,” the Bench ruled.

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