KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the excise and taxation department to revoke liquor licences granted in violation of the Prohibition (Enforcement of Hadd) Order 1979.

Headed by Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, a two-judge bench also directed the director general of the E&T department to ensure within two days issuance of notices to liquor shop owners in connection with cancellation of their licences.

The bench gave the direction while hearing a petition seeking cancellation of the licences and closure of the liquor shops being operated in Muslim-majority areas.

The chief justice questioned the representatives of provincial authorities under what law licences for running liquor shops were issued.

He explained that the licences may be issued for manufacture, import, or sale of liquor on the ground that such liquor was required for consumption by non-Muslim citizen of Pakistan as a part of a religious ceremony as per Article 17 of the Prohibition (Enforcement of Hadd) Order 1979.

The excise and taxation department’s director general submitted that any non-Muslim could purchase 16 bottles of beer and eight bottles of wine in a month. He argued that the non-Muslims could not even consume 10 per cent of the quota as they could not financially afford it.

To a court query, the director general said that the wine shops were being run since long and added that the licence fee was enhanced to Rs700,000 to discourage the opening of wine shops in compliance of the court’s previous order.

Meanwhile, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) submitted a report showing details of the Muslim and non-Muslim population in the city.

According to the report, 2,809 Christians and 2,572 Hindu reside in the Central district, 69,820 Christians and 13,356 Hindus live in Karachi East, 16,329 Christians and 8,877 Hindus live in Malir, 24,406 Christians and 4,422 Hindus in Karachi West, and 57,568 Christians and 43,143 Hindus in Karachi South.

Earlier, the excise and taxation department informed the judges that there were 120 liquor shops across the province. Of them, 59 shops are in Karachi including 11 being operated in DHA and Clifton areas.

Published in Dawn October 19th, 2016

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