A division bench of Gujarat High Court comprising of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav has started to hear a bunch of petitions challenging the prohibition on manufacture, consumption and sale of liquor in the state vide the Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949.
The petitioners claim that the impugned act violates right to privacy and suffers from the vice of ‘manifest arbitrariness’.
Advocate General Kamal Trivedi has argued on behalf of the state that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear this challenge as the Supreme Court in the case of State of Bombay v. F.N. Balsara has already declared the 1949 act as constitutional.
The petitioners argue that they have decided to challenge the law on two new grounds.
The first ground is of manifest arbitrariness which has been applied by the Supreme Court in a string of cases like Shayara Bano, Navtej Singh Johar and Joseph Shine while the second ground is of right to privacy which includes the right to consume liquor within four walls of home as per the Supreme Court’s ruling in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India.
Trivedi further argued that the High Court is bound by the decision of the Supreme Court under Article 141 of the Constitution and also cited the case of Sarjubhaiya Mathurbhaiya Kahar v. Deputy Commissioner Of Police.
In this case the Gujarat High Court refused to re-look into validity of Sections 56 and 59 of the Bombay Police Act, 1951 on the ground that a new ground for challenge had emerged.
However, Advocate Mihir Thakore stated that that the validity of the provisions under challenge before the High Court were not under challenge before the Supreme Court.
The court has decided to continue the proceedings of the case tomorrow.
By Team SLC