The Tamil Nadu DMK government has issued a notification dated March 18, 2023 amending the Tamil Nadu Liquor (Licence and Permit) Rules of 1981 to allow the serving of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and Imported Foreign Liquor to guests, visitors and participants, at international and national summits and events like conferences, celebrations and festivals.
According to the amendment, a special licence would be granted annually by the Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner of the Excise Department to supply liquor in commercial premises like conference halls, convention centres, marriage halls, banquet halls, and sports stadiums. However, on April 24th, 2023 the Tamil Nadu government amended and removed marriage halls and banquet halls from the list of commercial premises where liquor was allowed to be supplied.
As per the amendment, the special license for possession and supply of liquor can be obtained by paying an annual registration fee of Rs. One lakh in corporation limits, Rs. 75,000 in municipality limits and Rs. 50,000 in other places. Subsequently, the fee per day for issue of permit for conducting one event, whenever conducted, is Rs. 11,000 in corporation limits, Rs. 7,500 in municipalities and Rs. 5,000 in other places respectively.
The amendment also said that special license for one time possession and supply of liquor in non-commercial premises during conduct of household celebrations, functions, parties etc is Rs. 11,000, Rs. 7,500 and Rs. 5,000 in corporations, municipalities and other places respectively.
The new rules state that the licensee shall obtain supplies from the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Limited (TASMAC) wholesale depot nearest to the place of events or from such other source as the Deputy Commissioner / Assistant Commissioner (Excise) may appoint or approve, subject to such conditions as he or she may stipulate and as per the quantity of the supplies approved by them. All such applications have to be made online, prior to seven working days from the date of conduct of the event to the Deputy Commissioner / Assistant Commissioner (Excise) in the districts in Form F.A.1.14, along with a copy of the challan of the fee remitted. Then these designated officers will grant a license in Form FL-12 with prior approval of the District Collector.
The issue of liquor under FL-12 special license may be in pegs / bottles for consumption, the Amendment said.
As per the amendment, the licensee has to transport the liquor after obtaining the transport permit in form FTP . 1 from the Deputy Commissioner / Assistant Commissioner (Excise) of the concerned district. The transport from the source of supply to the licensed premises shall be in accordance with the provisions of these rules. However, the amendment does not mention any fee for obtaining transport permit.
Further it said that a no-objection certificate from the Commissioner of Police, for events held within corporation limits and from the Superintendent of Police for events held in districts, should be obtained.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Electricity, Prohibition, and Excise V Senthil Balaji announced in the Tamil Nadu Assembly that the government would be deciding on the closure of 500 liquor shops across the state within this year. He mentioned that 96 shops run by TASMAC had violated norms. There are 5,329 retail liquor shops run by TASMAC.
“We are following the norms that other states are following. The IPL management had sought permission to serve liquor in the stadiums during the matches. Considering such international sports and events, we have decided to grant permission,” the minister said.
Opposition Condemns Move
Opposition parties condemned the move of allowing special liquor permits. The Tamil Nadu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President K Annamalai said in a statement that this was an effort to increase the income of distilleries run by DMK leaders. “The DMK came to power by giving assurances that it would close liquor factories and retail shops, but Tasmac is trying to boost the sale of liquor each year by fixing a ceiling limit without bothering about the people. This move will lead to social disorder.”
Around the same time, the Pattali Makkal Katchi filed a public interest litigation at the Madras High Court and the spokesman of the party, Advocate K Balu, termed the move “highly condemnable”. He said the G.O. amending Tamil Nadu Liquor (Licence and Permit) Rules 1981 is illegal, unjust and against the public interest.
“The FL 12 special licence for serving liquor at conference halls, convention centres, marriage halls, banquet halls and sports stadium is contrary to the 2017 guidelines issued by Supreme Court to protect the life of citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution,” he said. Serving liquor in public event venues would cause nuisance to the public and deprive them of their right to peaceful life, the petition said.
AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami tweeted “The same DMK government, which says prohibition is the only goal, has kept liquor shops open for 12 hours. Now, it has allowed liquor in marriage halls and sports stadiums.”
DMK’s allies, MDMK general secretary Vaiko and CPM state secretary K Balakrishnan also urged the government to abandon the move. Other parties, including PMK, TMC(M), AMMK and VK Sasikala have condemned the notification.