Thiruvananthapuram: Coming down heavily on the alcohol menace in Kerala, the High Court has stepped in and in strong words, advised the state government to stop the sale and consumption of liquor before 5 pm.
The High Court said, "To accomplish the objective of reduction in consumption, not only sale of liquor should be prohibited until 5 pm by bar hotels, but consumption during working time should be prohibited as well, providing for punishment even for consumers."
The anti-alcohol campaigners have welcomed the High Court's suggestion and are cheering.
However, there is less enthusiasm elsewhere.
A resident of the state said, "Total ban is not good. If they are doing it in private and not being a nuisance then it is good."
The Kerala government is in a quandary. This is because if the High Court suggestions are accepted, the revenue from liqour sales, which runs into thousands of crores, will be seriously hit.
The powerful liquor lobby is expected to fight tooth and nail against a partial prohibition, and then there will be protests that it infringes on personal freedom.
For now the government is treading lightly.
"We will discuss this matter in the next Cabinet and take a view on it. We need to take a balanced view," said Kerala Industries Minister PK Kunhalikutty.
The High Court's tough talk on alcoholism has generated mixed reactions in the state. All eyes are on whether the government will go ahead and fix a time table for Malayalis to indulge in their happy hours.