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SHC orders closure of all Liquor stores in Sindh until enforcement of regulatory laws

Karachi: March 2, 2017. (PCP) Chief Justice of Sindh High Court Sajjad Ali Shah has ordered the provincial government to shut all liquor shops and prepare a strategy according to law to regulate the sale of alcohol.

The demand of religious minorities to impose complete ban on distribution of liquor on religion grounds still awaits any legislative or judicial action as SHC decision still falls short to fulfil their demand because part of this order directs Sindh government to distribute liquor under regulations not completely bans it from sale.

Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC filed petition in Federal Shariat Court Islamabad in 1992 to impose complete ban on distribution of liquor in Pakistan and cancel permits issued to religious communities individuals to purchase liquor but same was dismissed by Full Bench headed by Justice Tanzeer-Ur- Rehman.

This SHC order came during the hearing of a petition filed by patron of Pakistan Hindu Council and member of the National Assembly Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who argued before the honorable court that alcohol was being wrongfully sold in the name of Non-Muslims. He urged that the sale of alcohol beverages without regulation is violation of Article 37(h) and Hudood Ordinance, under the Constitution of Pakistan. Dr Ramesh Vankwani also proposed to adopt the biometric verification process in this regard. He was of the view that alcohol is forbidden in all religions and nowadays various Non-Muslim community are observing religious fasting and thus, respect to all religions, just like respect of holy month of Ramadan, must be ensured in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

"A bill has already been presented to the National Assembly for the amendment of Article 37(h), so that sale of alcohol in the name of Non-Muslims could be restricted," he informed.

On the occasion, Advocate General and lawyers of wine shops admitted that most of wine shops are not operating according to permit. Chief Justice also showed extreme anger on the DG Excise and ordered for closure of all wine shops till the mechanism for regulation is presented in the court hearing, to be held next month.

Latter, talking to the media, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani has lauded the Sindh High Court orders and said that majority of the wine shops are established in the most expensive residential areas where even a poor Non-Muslim could not afford to visit. He demanded that there must be complete ban on the alcohol beverages across the country.