Chennai: Club members cheer HC order on bringing own liquor
Chennai: In a major relief to registered Clubs, its members and their guests, the Madras high court quashed a circular dated March 23, 2010 issued by the Commissioner of Prohibition and Excise, Chennai, denying permission to the members of Clubs or their guests to bring liquor or wine or any sort, from outside the premises and consume within the Club premises.
Allowing a batch of petitions from Madras Club, Madras Gymkhana Club and 18 others, Justice M.S. Ramesh said, “The authorities shall not prohibit the members of the Registered Clubs or its guests from carrying liquor from outside the Club premises for consumption inside the Club premises, so long as such liquors are within the permissible quantity namely, 4.5 litres of IMFL, 4.5 litres of foreign liquor, 7.8 litres of beer and 9 litres of wine”.
According to advocate Abudukumar Rajaratnam, appearing for Madras Gymkhana Club, it has been a regular practice of the members of the petitioner club to carry their own liquor to the club for consumption within the premises of the club, which holds a permit to supply liquor.
The petitioner club charges an additional fee known as ‘Corkage’ for permitting their members to use their own liquor within the premises of the club.
To the shock and surprise of the petitioner club and its members, the Commissioner of Prohibition and Excise had issued a circular dated March 23, 2010 citing Rule 34 (2) of the Tamil Nadu Liquor (License and Permit) Rules by which all F.L.2 licensees have been instructed not to permit the members of the club or their guests to bring liquor from outside the club premises and consume it within the club’s premises.
The circular had been issued as though the rule contains an implied negative meaning so as to prohibit carrying of liquor by members of the club from outside.
Moreover, as per the rules, any person can possess 4.5 litres of IMFS, 4.5 litres of foreign liquor, 7.8 litres of beer and 9 litres of wine at a given point of time, within the state, Abudukumar added.
Extracting Rule 34 (2) of the TN Liquor (License and Permit) Rules, the judge said, “A careful perusal of the aforesaid provision does not, even remotely imply to the effect that, consumption of liquor within the club brought from outside the club is prohibited. The said Rule only contemplates and enables the club to supply liquor to its members and their guests and that, liquor supplied by the clubs could either be consumed within the premises of the club or removed from there in sealed bottles. As such, the assumption of the Commissioner, Prohibition and Excise, Chennai, that there is an implication for restriction of liquor being brought inside the Club for consumption, is misconceived. On this short ground, the circular dated March 23, 2010 is liable to be quashed”.
Referring to Rule 2 of the Tamil Nadu Liquor (Possession for Personal Consumption) Rules as mended by a G.O dated June 9, 2017, the judge said the restriction thereby entitles a person to hold possession of the four categories of liquors to the quantities mentioned, within the state of Tamil Nadu. The persons referred to the Rule will include the members of the Clubs, as well as the guests of the Club members. It was needless to mention here that carrying of the four categories of liquors into the Club premises and within the quantities specified above, can be regulated by the Clubs by imposition of ‘Corkage’ or any other like charges, the judge added.