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The poor becoming victims of bootleggers: Supreme Court

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court, on Monday, observed that alcohol had already proved itself to be one of the major enemies of human beings and the poor people who could not afford liquor from recognised outlets became victims of the avarice of bootleggers.

A Bench of Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice Cyriac Joseph, dismissing the appeals filed by Manichan and two other accused in the Kalluvathukkal liquor tragedy, said: “Alcohol has already proved itself to be one of the major enemies of human beings. However, its grip is not loosened in spite of the realisation of the evil effects of alcohol on the human life. On the other hand, the unholy grip is being tightened day by day. Therefore, when the standard and healthy alcohol in the form of liquor is not available or is too costly for the common man, the poor section of society goes for illicitly distilled liquor, which is sold by the bootleggers.”

Without conscience

The Bench said: “The conscienceless bootleggers — thanks to their avarice for money — take full advantage of this human weakness and without any compunction or qualms of conscience, distil illicit liquor and then to increase the sale and to gain astronomical profits make their product more potent at least in taste so as to attract the poor customers. Such poor customers invariably become the prey of such unholy avarice on the part of the bootleggers and, in the process, even lose their lives at times or suffer such injuries which are irreparable like total blindness, etc., and that is precisely what has happened in this case.”

Meticulous operation

The Bench said that the judgment of the Kerala High Court insofar as the three accused were concerned did not call for interference. The Bench, while analysing the evidence, pointed out the meticulous manner in which Manichan was carrying on his illicit liquor trade.

The Bench said: “The accounts very significantly include the monies paid to the police officers of various ranks as also the excise officers. All this was indicated in the accounts in the code language. The internal arrangements of the business with other accused persons were also discussed and also the financial aspects. He has also discussed about he incriminating circumstances.”

Scary business

“It is proved that as a result of mixing of methanol with the liquor and as a result of consuming such liquor, as many as 31 persons lost their lives and number of others suffered grievous injuries. Considering the number of deaths caused on account of the business in which this accused was neck-deep, we do not think that any leniency can be shown.”

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