The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain appeals against a Jammu & Kashmir High Court judgment which had struck down certain clauses of the Excise Policy 2017-18 resulting in the cancellation of temporary licenses to wine shops in Jammu & Kashmir (Raj Kumar Gandotra v. State of Jammu & Kashmir).
A Division bench of the High Court in December 2020 had struck down clauses 3.2.7 and 11 in Excise Policy for year 2017-18, clauses 3.2.4 and 11 in Excise Policy for year 2018-19 and clause 3.2.7 and 10 in Excise Policy for year 2019-20 as being contrary to the provisions of clause 3.2.1 of Excise Policies for years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, and Rules 26, 27.
The High Court had held that renewal of licenses for trade in liquor is not a matter of right, which can be enforced and for purpose of renewal of licenses for trade in liquor, if permissible in law, all conditions applicable for grant of a new license shall also be applicable.
A Bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna dismissed the appeal against the same stating, “We are not inclined to interfere with the impugned judgment(s) passed by the High Court(s). Special Leave Petitions are dismissed.”
Liquor vending shop owners had approached the Supreme Court assailing the December 28, 2020, judgment of the High Court and an order dated April 6, 2021 dismissing the review petition order.
The appellants had contended that the High Court order failed to appreciate that and the rule making power or taking the decision lies with the Executive and courts are not within their right to suo moto strike down any statue or policy decision, “more so when the same is not subject matter of litigation and the said legislation is not afflicted by the vices of arbitrariness, unreasonableness or are discriminatory”.
The appeal before the Supreme Court said that courts should not ordinarily interfere with economic policies unless such policies are plainly arbitrary and irrational.
“In economic policies the court should be slow to interfere unless the same appears to be plainly arbitrary and irrational. The Impugned Order has failed to consider Section 20 of the J&K Excise Act, 1958 which clearly states that the license under the Excise Act can be granted on payment of such fee if any and “for such period” subject to such restrictions and conditions imposed by the Competent Authority,” the appeal said.