ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday suspended a Sindh High Court (SHC) decision to seal 120 liquor shops operating in Sindh.
A two-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Ijaz Afzal and Justice Mazhar Alam while admitting a petition filed by the owners of liquor stores, ruled that the SHC could not issue such an order when a law governing the sale of liquor across the country already existed.
Lawyer Shahid Hamid, representing various wine shop owners from Sindh, had challenged the SHC order saying liquor shops operating in Sindh were licensed and taxed by the government and should be allowed to continue operating without hindrance.
In his remarks, Justice Afzal noted that the sale of alcohol had been banned in the country in 1979.
“If someone is found violating the law [regarding the sale of liquor], the police can act against them,” he said.
He also added that if someone violated the law after the court’s current ruling, contempt proceedings could be initiated against them.
PML-N lawmaker Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council, in his arguments said the Hindu religion prohibited consumption of alcohol.
Some liquor shops existed in close proximity to mosques, temples and churches, he said, while requesting the apex court to not lift the ban on liquor shops until the Sindh government filed its reply in the high court regarding regulation of sale of liquor.
While setting aside the March 2 order of the SHC, the SC said it would hear the wine shop owners’ petition within three weeks.
The apex court had given the Sindh government one month to evolve a mechanism in consultation with the stakeholders to ensure that only licensed liquor shops sold wine and liquor to non-Muslims within the permissible quota as part of their religious ceremonies and maintained a record of sales which should be made available to the public. – APP