The Madras High Court has decided to examine whether the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) is bound to disclose or not the quantum of liquor it procures from private breweries and distilleries in the State and the cost at which such procurement takes place every year.
The court has directed Tasmac to submit by January 6 the copies of contracts it had entered into with the private breweries and distilleries. It has also called for the details regarding the quantum of liquor procured from them and the prices at which they had been supplied.
As Tasmac did not heed the earlier directives of the court to provide details, a bench of Justice Anita Sumanth ordered it to pay Rs 10,000 to the Cancer Institute at Adyar in Chennai as costs.
The court passed the orders following a writ petition filed by Coimbatore-based advocate Loganathan after the Tamil Nadu Information Commission refused his RTI query regarding the quantum of liquor procured from private distilleries and breweries.
The advocate submitted an application under the RTI Act in May 2015 seeking information on six queries related to the income generated by the government of Tamil Nadu through the sale of liquor during the period 2013-14 and 2014-15.
When there were no responses, he approached the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission in 2017. The Tasmac Public Information Officer responded to five of his six queries including staff payment, rental expenditure, and other administrative expenses. However, the PIO refused to respond to the question regarding the quantum of purchase from private distilleries and breweries and the amount spent, citing that this would affect the commercial interests of the third parties involved.
Following this, the advocate moved the Madras High Court and a final hearing on the same was held on December 2, 2022, but standing counsel of Tasmac opposed the plea, stating that the details could not be divulged.
The judge then directed Tasmac Managing Director to submit copies of the contract entered between the private distilleries and breweries with Tasmac and the volume procured as well as its price.
Even after this Tasmac did not submit the details in a sealed cover to the court and now Justice Sumanth has ordered Tasmac to provide the details on January 6 without fail.