Kochi, April 2: In a huge embarrassment to the Pinarayi Vijayan government, the Kerala High Court on Thursday stepped in to stop the government move to allow addicts to buy alcohol if they produce a doctor’s prescription. A bench of the high court comprising justices AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Shaji P Chaly called the government order “disturbing” and a “recipe for disaster”.

The bench was hearing appeals against the government order filed by activists, doctors and the state wing of the Indian Medical Association, The Hindustan Times reported.

On Monday, Kerala’s Excise Department issued orders allowing liquor vends to sell liquor in controlled quantities to addicts if they come with a recommendation from a government doctor.

The government order had drawn immediate criticism from medical practitioners and opposition parties. The Pinarayi Vijayan government had defended the order, pointing out that eight people had killed themselves due to unavailability of liquor due to the national lockdown.

In court on Thursday, the government presented a similar defence but the judges weren’t convinced. The state’s law officer tried, pointing that liquor in moderate quantities was administered to addicts as part of treatment also.

The judges expressed concern at the state’s unilateral decision to administer alcohol to persons suffering from alcohol withdrawal syndrome, calling it a disturbing decision that wasn’t supported by scientific studies.

This is a recipe for disaster, the bench observed, ordering the government to immediately stop implementing the decision for the next three weeks.


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