SC nixes plea for 100 percent cut in water to liquor industry
New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a plea seeking 100 percent cut in supply of water to the liquor industry in Maharashtra so that millions of people faced with unprecedented drought could be provided water.
Dismissing the plea as withdrawn, an apex court vacation bench of Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said it was a policy matter and any interference in this by the judiciary would amount to taking over governance.
Telling the petitioner that the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court has already directed 60 percent cut in supply of water to the distilleries, the bench said the PIL petitioner before the high court could seek modification of that order.
Observing that some aspects of the policy matter have to be left to the state government, the bench asked why cut in water supply to the industry should be 60 percent and not 30 percent or 70 percent.
The bench also wondered if the plea for 100 percent cut in water supply to the liquor industry was not for “publicity”.
The petitioner Sanjay Bhaskarrao Kale had questioned an interim order of the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court which said that a balance has to be struck between the needs of the people for drinking water and the needs of the industry.
Seeking 100 percent cut in water supply to the liquor industry, Kale said human needs must takes precedence over the needs of the businesses because the right to access to drinking water is fundamental to life.
The petitioner said the liquor industry was consuming 60 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water coupled with an unauthorised lifting of 30 TMC of water — many times more than the 20 TMC of water consumed for drinking purposes in the state’s cities every year.
The petitioner said there were only 454,772 people holding licence for consumption/possession/transport of liquor in Maharashtra and that bulk of the 86,71,40,565 litres of alcohol produced in the state was being exported.
There is a duty cast on the state under Article 21 of the constitution to provide clean drinking water to its citizens, the petitioner said.
The dismissal of the plea seeking 100 percent cut in water supply to the liquor industry assumes significance as the Supreme Court had earlier upheld the Bombay High Court order banning the hosting of IPL cricket matches in Maharashtra in view of the prevailing drought conditions in the state.