The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday, June 23, heard a batch of petitions challenging the state government's Prohibition Act, under which the sale and consumption of liquor is banned.
One of the petitions argued that the law was irrational and unfair. Rajiv Patel, the petitioner, said, The state cannot dictate what he [a citizen] will eat and what he will drink." Patel added that citizens had the right to choose how to live as long as they were not causing any inconvenience to society.
Advocate General Kamal Trivedi on June 21 had argued that except for two sections, the remaining sections of the Act being challenged by the petitioners have already been upheld by the Supreme Court in 1951, and thus a fresh challenge on two new grounds — 'manifest arbitrariness' and right to privacy — cannot be entertained before the Gujarat HC and can only be looked at by the SC.
'What Stops State From Saying No Non-Veg Food From Tomorrow'
On Tuesday, June 22, the petitioners had argued that the government might as well control what food people consume at home if it put restrictions on alcohol consumption. Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, who represented the state government, however, opposed this argument. He said that the right to eat non-veg within four walls of one's home cannot be compared to drinking intoxicating substances that are injurious to health. "Tomorrow someone may argue that I am consuming psychotropic substances within my home and the State cannot impose control," he added.
Trivedi added that citizens' right to privacy was subject to certain restrictions based on the social environment. "This concept of Right to Privacy is not like a bull in a china shop," he said.
'People Of Gujarat Happy With Prohibition'
Advocate Prakash Jani, arguing in favour of the legislation, insisted that the people of the state were happy with prohibition, and that it acted in favour of the disadvantaged. "People in the State of Gujarat are very happy with prohibition; you ask those helping the disadvantaged sections of the society. Prohibition is the reason that Gujarat has highest per capita income," he said. Jani appeared for an NGO that works with downtrodden women.