New Delhi, Dec 06 (PTI) The Supreme Court today ordered dissolution of the Sotax Dispensary of India (SDI), which is facing a fresh legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
The order comes after the Supreme Courts of India and the Bombay High Court in a joint order this month ordered dissolution and liquidation of the business.
The Delhi High Court earlier said it was seeking “full and immediate relief” from the Centre.
It is not clear what legal remedies are likely to be sought in the case.
The government, which has been facing a backlash from business and political circles over the issue of Sotaxis, had sought a stay of the Supreme court’s order.
It has been fighting the challenge since August.
The issue of the sale of the liquor monopoly in the country, the largest liquor market in the world, was raised at the highest levels of the government by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 21, which was when the Supreme Council for Justice (SCJ) was convened.
The SCJ ordered the government to provide the liquor dispensing company with information and to present its proposals to dissolve the Sota Dispensaries.
A day later, the government submitted a detailed proposal for dissolution of Sota, which the government then presented to the SCJ.
On October 16, the SC, in a five-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A.M. Shah, directed the government not to sell the monopoly in a manner that would deprive the state of revenue.
The state’s attorney general had challenged the SC decision, but the Supreme Judicial Magistrate (SJM) in August had rejected the plea.
The case was filed by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who contested the election on the basis of the promise to dissolve Sota.
Earlier this year, a bench of Justices A.K. Agrawal and Anupama Rao had asked the government in its reply to the SGM for a detailed explanation of the matter.
A senior government official said the government has not yet submitted its final position.
“The government has sought all legal assistance from all the parties concerned, including the SC,” the official said.
Earlier, the Delhi government had sought to dismiss the case on a number of grounds, including that the Supreme Government cannot grant the liquor licence.
The liquor licence, which expires on March 31, 2019, is being sought by the Union home ministry in its writ petition.
The Supreme Government has also sought to annul the judgement of the Bombay HC and SCJ, which had rejected a petition filed by the state government.
The court has yet to rule on the writ petition filed in September by the Delhi High Public Interest Litigation Centre (DHILCO), a local NGO.
The HC, in its judgment in the matter in August, said that the government had given no justification for its decision to dissolve and liquidate Sota after a preliminary hearing on the petition filed against the liquor license.
“There is no basis to find the closure of the premises or liquidation order to be in violation of the provisions of the Food Safety Act, 1986,” the HC had said in its order.
The petition, filed by DHILCO, had contended that the sale and distribution of liquor should be done on a voluntary basis.
In a separate judgment, the Bombay high court had said that there was no ground for the government’s plea to dismiss and liquidator of the licence should not be granted.
The Gujarat government has filed an appeal in the HC seeking dismissal of the HC order.
In August, the HC said that it would not entertain any appeal against the HC judgment and was “confident” that the Bombay court would “conclude the matter” in its favour.
The Bombay HC, which also heard a petition by the Gujarat government, said the state was a “member state” of the Union and therefore the Bombay bench had jurisdiction over the government of the state.
The Centre has been “very supportive” of Gujarat in its stand against the Bombay judgement, the Centre said in a tweet.
The Modi government had earlier in September said it would appeal the HC decision.
The CBI, which led the case against the Gujarat high court, has sought a direction from the HC that the liquor licences of the two states be dissolved.
The two states have been facing an unprecedented boycott and protests since November 2014, when a similar liquor licence case was lodged in the High Court.