AP govt cancels all existing bar licenses

Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government has cancelled all existing bar licenses issued in the state. The withdrawal aims at issuing new licenses and subsequently reducing bars by 40 per cent in the first phase.

“The existing bar policy has been reviewed, and it has been decided to reduce the number of bars, increase licence fee, and reduce business hours aiming to further curtail the availability of alcoholic beverages to the general public,” the order said.

As on November 22, all existing bar licences granted under the AP Excise (Grant of Licence of Selling by Bar and Conditions of Licence) Rules, 2017 made under the AP Excise Act, 1968, shall be withdrawn by the state’s licence-granting authorities.

Secondly, the licence fee and the non-refundable registration charge (proportionate to the unexpired portion of licence term) shall be refunded after deduction if any due from the license to the government.

Not too long ago, AP Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy held a meeting with the Prohibition and Excise Department to frame a policy on prohibition of liquor sale. The decision to cancel bar licenses was the result of this meeting.

According to available statistics, the number of retail shops has been reduced from 4,380 to 3,500. Furthermore, the AP State Beverages Corporation Ltd (APSBCL) has been granted an exclusive privilege to run the 3,500 retail liquor shops with effect from October 1, 2019. However, business hours have been reduced, and the current timings are from 11.00 am to 8.00 pm.

The decision to cancel bar licenses followed several representations submitted by women’s welfare organisations, added the order. “It is strongly felt that there is an imperative need to reduce the availability of liquor further to avoid road accidents, domestic violence, and crime caused by the influence of alcohol. It is also felt that such curtailment of availability of liquor would save the poorer sections from getting financially ruined,” the order said.

Does a state have the right to frame policies on the prohibition on liquor sale?

Yes, Article 47 of the Constitution of India permits a state to prohibit the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drinks and drugs that are dangerous to health.

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