Modifying the four-day ban on liquor sale in Thane during the upcoming civic polls, the Bombay high court set aside the circular's direction for dry day on February 19 following a plea by a hotels association on Friday.
With this order, February 20, 21 and 23 (till results are declared) will remain as dry days.
The Thane Municipal Corporation elections will be held on February 21 and results will be declared on February 23.
A bench of justice VM Kanade and PR Bora ruled that there was no need to impose ban on sale of liquor two days before the polls (i.e from February 19) and also for the entire day on the date of counting (February 23) considering that the votes are counted electronically and the process is completed by afternoon.
One of the judges, after giving the order, quipped, "Anyways these days all political parties have become clever enough to store liquor prior to the dry days."
The court was hearing a petition filed by Hotel Owners Association from Thane, challenging a circular issued on January 24 by Thane Collector and State Excise Department declaring dry days from the evening of February 19 to 21 and on February 23.
"We set aside the circular to the extent of ban on February 19. We are also of the view that it is not necessary to impose ban on sale of liquor after the results are declared on February 23," the court said.
The petitioner's lawyer submitted that the four-day ban was imposed under provisions of the Representation of People's Act, but the Act applies only to Lok Sabha elections and not to civic polls. The petition termed the ban as "illegal and bad in law and perverse."