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Spirit of the law: Delhi HC rejects PIL seeking ban on sale of alcohol at Indian airports

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking prohibition on sale or dispensation of liquor in the departure area of domestic terminals of Indian airports has been rejected by the Delhi High Court on the grounds that it is not executable.

The petition, filed by a non-profit company, had claimed that the rules barring serving or consumption of alcohol were in place to prevent passengers from getting drunk while on-board an aircraft and it would affect flight safety through unruly behaviour by passengers.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice PS Teji, however, refused to entertain the plea saying the prayer sought by the petitioner was not executable.

It said that the relief sought was akin to not providing sugar to someone on the ground that it could lead to diabetes as the plea was premised on the assumption that everyone, who has had a drink, would be drunk.

The court also said it would be “completely difficult” to control what a passenger imbibes before entering the airport or after passing through security check.

“The court cannot pass an in-executable writ. The petition has no merits. Dismissed,” the bench said.

The non-profit company, India Awake for Transparency, had in its plea filed through advocate R Subramanian claimed there was no point in prohibiting serving of alcohol on domestic flights if passengers were free to drink or purchase it from the bars or liquor outlets in the airport terminals.

It had contended that as per the aviation rules, the reason for non-serving of alcohol on domestic flights was to prevent drunken behaviour by passengers.

The petitioner company had claimed that the ban was brought into force after an airline, Damania Airways (now defunct), had started serving alcoholic beverages on its domestic flights which had led to unsavoury incidents. The government had then held that such incidents were endangering flight and passenger safety.

The ban has, thereafter, been in force for over two decades, it had said.

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