A plea was filed in the Delhi High Court seeking direction to the AAP government to start online sale of liquor to ensure social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic as people turned out in large numbers crowding such shops after they opened this week increasing the risk of spreading the virus.
As an alternative prayer, the plea has sought introduction of a token system at liquor shops that will help in crowd management. The petition is likely to come up for hearing on May 11.
Petitioner Sajag Nijhawan referred to various media reports highlighting instances of crowds gathering at liquor shops since they opened on May 4, without maintaining social distancing and leading to law and order situation. It alleged there was a failure on the part of the AAP government in taking appropriate steps to control the large gathering in and around 150 government-run liquor shops which were opened after 47 days.
Hundreds of people turned up outside the liquor shops, creating a complete chaos as social distancing norms were not adhered to and forcing the police to use mild force to disperse the unruly crowd, it said.
The petition, filed through Simran Kohli and Abheehshek Bhagat, sought direction to the Delhi government and its Excise Department to take immediate steps in view of the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic to control the crowds outside the liquor shops and to ensure strict adherence to social distancing.
It sought direction to the Delhi government to evolve a proper policy to start the online sale of liquor and deliver it to the consumers homes at a time when the entire machinery of the country is tirelessly working to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
The petition said it does not seek closing of these shops considering the burden on the government to deal with major revenue dip, but was seeking judicial order for appropriate steps to balance the need of revenue generation as well as social distancing.
Another PIL was filed by NGO Civil Safety Council of India in the high court on Wednesday seeking direction to the Delhi government to close the liquor shops in the national capital until the situation of COVID-19 pandemic is under control. It is likely to come up for hearing on Friday.