“Policy decision”: Supreme court refuses to entertain plea for warning label on liquor

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The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea seeking prohibition/regulation on the production, distribution and consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs in the national capital [Ashwini Upadhyay v UOI]
A bench of Chief Justice of India UU Lalit, Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Indira Banerjee noted that it was a policy matter and thus directed petitioner to withdraw the writ petition.

“Either you withdraw this or we will dismiss it. This is a policy matter,” the Court said.

The petitioner, BJP spokesperson and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, then chose to withdraw the petition.

Upadhyay’s plea sought a direction to the Delhi government to carry out a ‘Health Impact Assessment’ and ‘Environment Impact Assessment’ of production, distribution and consumption of the intoxicating drinks and drugs in the spirit of Articles 21 and 47 of the Constitution.

The plea added that a direction should be passed to the government to publish health warnings on liquor bottles and packages like the warning signs used on cigarette packets, and the same should be advertised through electronic, print and social media in order to secure the people’s right to know Upadhyay during the hearing said that he would only press for limited prayer to have warning labels on alcohol as they are harmful.

“A little indulgence in this matter will benefit the youth. I only seek warning labels on such drinks as it is harmful,” he said.

To this CJI replied, “There are thoughts and counter thoughts. Some say liquor taken in small quantity is good for health.”

The Bench, therefore, also refused to entertain the plea.

“Please grant me liberty to approach Law Commission ,” the petitioner requested.

“No, we will only allow withdrawal,” the Court said.

Earlier this month, the top court had refused to entertain a plea seeking directions to the Central government to introduce an alcohol prevention policy at the national level.

In that case too, the Court had opined that it was a policy matter.

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