[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]n a move that could be termed as a conflict of interest, Attorney General (AG) of India Mukul Rohatgi has issued a doubtful legal opinion to Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPM) ruled Kerala State on how to save the liquor lobby from the Supreme Court’s ban on bars near the National Highways. The Supreme Court (SC) was just implementing the norms of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). As AG, Rohatgi is supposed to be the representative of the Union Government in the Courts and this advice of his to the Government of Kerala beggars belief.
Whoever comes to power, be it the CPM-led Front or the Congress-led Front, the power of the liquor lobby in Kerala is huge.
For the past two decades, the Ministry and NHAI have been giving directions to states from time to time to reduce the road accidents by not allowing liquor pubs or bars near National Highways. Many a time the Centre has written to the States to implement these measures to reduce the growing road accidents due to the drunk driving on the highways. A bar in North Paravur, Kerala, has built a 250 metre-long maze that leads to the actual establishment!
The three page opinion given to the CPM controlled Kerala State Government by Rohatgi shows how to dilute the Supreme Court’s Order by redefining various alcoholic products. He spells it out saying the judgment and directions contained therein applies to liquor shops wherein liquor is sold as retail items. The judgment does not bring within its sweep restaurants and hotels who serve liquor within their premises. So if all the liquor stores along the national highways convert themselves into restaurants serving liquor along with (optionally) food, then they would not be in violation of the Supreme Court edict? Does this not defeat the very purpose of this ruling?
Whoever comes to power, be it the CPM-led Front or the Congress-led Front, the power of the liquor lobby in Kerala is huge. Moreover a year ago, in a highly questionable move, Rohatgi appeared for a liquor baron of Kerala in Supreme Court against the State’s policy in limiting the liquor shops and bars. How an Attorney General can do this baffles the mind!
Rohatgi’s opinion given to the state government favouring the liquor lobby is published below. Last week, the Apex Court has rejected the Kerala Government’s stand formulated based on Rohatgi’s opinion.
This is not the first time Rohatgi is inviting controversies. His travel with one Rajeev Agarwal, a person jailed for smuggling to Dubai was totally inappropriate. As per the flight manifest sourced by PGurus, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi travelled with Rajeev Agarwal on December 20, 2014 in Emirates flight (EK 511) from Delhi to Dubai. According to eyewitnesses, Delhi’s Customs Commissioner and top officials escorted the Attorney General and his controversial friend cum client caught for smuggling from Airport entrance to Aircraft! Rohatgi’s seat number was 2E and Agarwal was in the adjacent seat 2F. The detailed article on this regard was published in PGurus earlier.
The question is why no action is being taken against such questionable ways of Attorney General Rohatgi…
Rohatgi’s opinion given to the state government favouring the liquor lobby is published below:
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.