Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 28
An order passed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court today made it clear that all is not well with the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the latest being “total arbitrary exercise of power” in the allotment of liquor vends virtually “for all times to come by the finance minister concerned”.
The Bench of Chief Justice (Acting) Rajesh Bindal and Justice Sanjay Dhar asserted the court was once again being called upon to clear the skeletons from the cupboard in the UT. Information by the government counsel revealed that 223 liquor vends were at present functional in Jammu and Kashmir. These were continuing with the same persons or their successors in interest for decades. “The process for the renewal of licences was being followed where admittedly allotments had not been made in a transparent manner. The same were done only on the recommendation of the finance minister concerned,” the Bench added.
Directing the adoption of a transparent method, the Bench added the process was not to be limited to the persons in power or close to the corridors of power “as had been the practice”. Setting aside clauses providing for renewal of licences for five years for 2017-18 to 2019-20, the Bench added the government would be at liberty to frame new excise policy for 2021-22. For avoiding a vacuum and possible loss of revenue to the government, the Bench allowed operation of the vends till March 31, 2021.