• Right to alcoholic drink not a fundamental right: Kerala HC

    January 18, 2017

    The Patna high court in October 2016 had dealt with the issue whether “Is drinking alcohol your fundamental right?” The same issue rose before Kerela HC on 12th January,  2017. The petition was filed by Anoop MS challenging government’s liquor policy. However Kerala High Court dismissed the challenge, observing that the laws prohibiting alcoholic drinks will not fall foul of the fundamental rights guaranteed to a citizen.
    Anoop MS had challenged the policy on the ground that there is no provision in the Abkari Act that empowers the government to prohibit liquor, even in a phased manner. As the single bench dismissed his writ petition observing that the apex court upheld the policy and hence it needs no interference, he approached the division bench in appeal. The Bench of Justice PR Ramachandra Menon and Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu heard his appeal against the single bench order.
    The judgment authored by Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu mainly dealt with the contention that consumption of liquor is a personal choice, a facet of right to privacy and right to be let alone, and the liquor policy of the government violates it.
    The court dealt with many precedents cited by the counsel vis-à-vis the right to privacy and observed: “We find no proposition that right to privacy is unfettered and that it brooks no restrictions—even reasonable ones, at that. We regret that none lays down that privacy, an individual right, prevails over the social welfare, a collective right.”
    The court also said that the directive principles have been accorded with a ‘pride of place’ by the constitutional courts. “Common good takes the lead and subordinates the individual’s inclinations, unless the fundamental right affected is nothing short of quintessence of the individual’s being, his existence,” the bench said
    The court further observed that Article 21 has been given a liberal, progressive treatment by the constitutional courts, such rights, is never unrestrained, much less unregulated.
    As a parting comment, the bench said, “What is today morally reprehensible and socially unacceptable may not be so tomorrow. Anoop, the appellant, may still have hope, but he seems to have raised his voice rather prematurely.


    The plea of mere possibility of abuse by some persons, the right of others cannot be abrogated. In our view, if the State starts dictating a citizen what to drink or what not to drink, though the same is not per se injurious to health, it would be a direct intrusion on personal liberty affecting meaningful life. It would be a violation of personal liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.

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