The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday said there was no public interest involved in allowing opening of wine shops, especially when a large population is deprived of elementary requirement of food, during the lockdown period of 21-days.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna heard through video conference the petition filed by Late G B Kulkarni Memorial Legal Trust, through its President Dr Vinod G Kulkarni. The plea states during the lock down certain class of people are deprived of consuming alcohol in any form or quantity. Social drinking has been in existence in India from time immemorial and Hindu scriptures mention that people during that period did consume Soma Rasa, regularly.
After the court declined to hear the petiton, Dr Kulkarni withdrew it and offered to contribute an amount of Rs 10,000 to the Chief Minister Relief Fund. The court directed him to pay the amount within two weeks and forward a receipt to the Registrar Judicial of the High Court.
Dr Kulkarni a renowned psychatrist of international acclaim had in his petiton said that alcohol if consumed in limited quantities is a relaxant of the body and mind. Many people do social drinking of alcohol and they are not branded as 'Alcohol Addicts'.
Due to the lockdown the public is deprived of procuring liquor which is resulting in mental depression, anxiety, hysteria outburst and abnormal behaviour. Alcohol withdrawal can result in a dangerous condition called 'Delirium', which is a medical emergency with significant morbidity and mortality. Further, depriving social drinkers from alcohol amounts to violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The plea also mentions that there have instances in Karnataka, where people have committed suicide due to non-availability of alcohol.
On April 2, The High Court of Kerala, stayed the order issued by the Kerala Government on March 30 as per which Excise Department can permit supply of alcohol to a person on production of a medical certificate to the effect that he is suffering from alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Justices A K Jayasankaran Nambiar had said "We are concerned that the State Government has taken a unilateral decision to administer more alcohol to persons suffering from alcohol withdrawal syndrome. This is disturbing. This is a recipe for disaster."
As per Kerala Government Order, a person should get a certificate from the doctor regarding alcohol dependency.
The guidelines explained those having 'alcohol withdrawal symptoms' can approach the outpatient department of any government run hospital,including medical colleges. The consulting doctor can issue a prescription or 'opinion' in writing certifying that the patient is having withdrawal symptoms. Once the prescription is submitted to the excise department range or circle office, along with an application in prescribed format and government provided identity proofs, the 'pass' can be issued by the concerned authority.