The duty-free liquor store inside Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport in Ahmedabad will start again, as the Gujarat High Court has stayed the order of the state’s prohibition and excise department that shut it down a few days back.
On August 31, the state’s prohibition and excise department issued an order to halt liquor sales at the international airport’s store, citing the shop operator’s failure to obtain the necessary no-objection certificate (NOC) from the relevant authority for liquor sales. As a result, the store ceased selling liquor to international travellers.
Mumbai Travel Retail obtained a license under Section 58A of the Customs Act to operate the duty-free store at SVPI and began selling duty-free liquor last year. They informed the prohibition department of their license, assuring compliance with the state’s dry policy in September 2022. However, eleven months later, the prohibition department requested a meeting to discuss the application. Within a week, they ordered the store to stop selling liquor, citing the lack of an NOC.
The store’s operating company subsequently took the matter to the high court, arguing that the decision to halt liquor sales had been made without affording them a chance to present their case. Their legal counsel contended that Section 147 of the Prohibition Act should not apply since the store is situated within the customs area of the airport.
The state government defended the closure order, asserting that it was the store operator’s responsibility to obtain an NOC from the prohibition department due to Gujarat’s liquor prohibition policy. The company countered, stating that they had obtained a permit for the duty-free store under the Customs Act, and thus, they were not in unauthorized occupation of the premises.