Kerala High Court: While relying upon the Supreme Court decision in Kerala Bar Hotels Association v. State of Kerala, (2015) 16 SCC 421, the Division Bench of P.R. Ramachandra Menon, Dama Seshadri Naidu, JJ. upheld the Government’s power to regulate or prohibit consumption of liquor, and held that such regulation cannot be said to be in violation of right to privacy. The appellant contended that the new Abkari Policy by which the Kerala Government had decided to shut down the liquor retail outlets in a phased manner had indirectly prohibited liquor consumption and thereby violated his fundamental right to life and privacy.
The High Court noted that the Article 47 of the Constitution places a responsibility on every State Government to at least contain if not curtail consumption of alcohol. The Courts, therefore, shall encourage rather than strike down policies such as the impugned Policy. The Court also noted that judicial review is justified only if the policy is arbitrary, unfair, or violative of fundamental rights and it has found no illegality or irrationality with the intention of the State to clamp down on consumption of alcohol. It further observed that right to privacy, like other fundamental rights is subject to reasonable restrictions. Moreover, if conflict between fundamental rights and directive principles is inevitable, the common good takes the lead and subordinates the individual’s inclinations. The writ appeal was accordingly dismissed. [Anoop M.S. v. State of Kerala, 2017 SCC OnLine Ker 60, decided on January 12, 2017]