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HC notice to govt over closure of Surla bars

PANAJI : The High Court of Bombay at Goa has issued a notice to the state government through its Chief Secretary, the North Goa district magistrate,   the excise commissioner and the village panchayat of Dongurli-Thane over the closure of establishments vending liquor in Surla in Sattari taluka.

The petition filed in the HC over the closure of bars has said  the petitioners (bar owners) have been running their establishments vending liquor in  Surla, falling within the jurisdiction of the village panchayat of Dongurli-Thane, for years and the oldest permit holder having procured the excise licence as early as 1986.

They have also stated that the establishments have been operating in due compliance under the law and more specifically after obtaining the necessary licences from  the excise commissioner, and that their entire livelihood is directly dependent on the establishments.

Appearing for the petitioners,  advocate Wilbur Menezes has said, “The actions of the state and the panchayat directly infringe upon the fundamental rights of the petitioners. The sheer absurdity of the notion that bars and alcohol retailing outlets are being ordered to be closed due to tourist causing annoyance itself is incomprehensible. Moreover, hypothetically if accepted, it cannot only be applied selectively to Surla village but must be applied pan Goa, as Goa is dotted with tourists at every nook and cranny.”

The petition has said the North Goa district magistrate cannot order the closure of the petitioners’ establishments under Section 29 A of the Goa Excise Duty Act due to tourists causing annoyance to villagers.

The nuisance and ruckus being created by tourists fall within the domain of the police and it is their duty to maintain law and order, the  petition has said.

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