Liquor dealers complain of losses due to extension of ban on sale till March 10

The Aizawl Bench of the Gauhati High Court on Tuesday rescheduled for January 29 the case against the extension of dry days in Mizoram.

The Mizoram Liquor Dealers’ Association and owners of three bonded warehouses in the State filed lawsuits on January 17 against the Mizo National Front government’s decision to extend the dry days till March 10. Under pressure from the church and keeping its election promise to impose prohibition, the government had declared dry days from December 21 last to January 14 in view of Christmas and New Year celebrations. But the ban was extended earlier this month.

More documents sought

“The court, which had earlier asked the government to submit its dry day notifications, sought more documents,” one of the petitioners said.

The owners of the bonded warehouses and the liquor outlets said the State government should have had an exit policy instead of extending the dry days “whimsically”.

As there was no indication that the prohibition would be reintroduced, the dealers stocked up, placing orders till March, and incurred losses.

Prohibition decisions

Total prohibition was first imposed under the Mizoram Liquor (Total Prohibition) Act in 1997 when Lal Thanhawla was the Chief Minister. The decision, however, did not help the Congress retain power in the Assembly election the next year. The Congress replaced total prohibition with controlled prohibition 18 years later through the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Act, 2014. A few wine shops were opened in 2015, and the government netted ₹70 crore in annual revenue through liquor sales.

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