ENA ‘mother raw material’ for potable liquor and denatured spirit, say states | India News

CJI D Y Chandrachud, along with his father Justice Y V Chandrachud, who was CJI for the longest-ever tenure of seven-and-a-half years, are the first father-son duo to head the Indian judiciary. Chandrachud Jr has so far twice overruled his father’s judgments.
CJI Chandrachud, while ruling that right to privacy was part of right to life in his August 2017 judgment in K S Puttaswamy case, had overruled the infamous Emergency-era ADM Jabalpur verdict, in which his father was a party to the majority opinion that upheld govt’s power to suspend fundamental rights.
In Sept 2018, he overruled another of his father’s decisions in the May 1985 Sowmithri Vishnu case, which upheld the validity of Section 497 of IPC that punished only married men for having sexual relationships outside marriage.
The SC’s five-judge bench in Joseph Shine case had decriminalised the penal provision and said adultery could only be cited as a ground for divorce.
In the liquor case, Justice Nagarathna has been consistently asking questions pertaining to distinguishable features of intoxicating liquor, alcoholic liquor for human consumption and industrial alcohol.
The bench of CJI Chandrachud and Justices Hrishikesh Roy, A S Oka, Nagarathna, J B Pardiwala, Manoj Misra, Ujjal Bhuyan, Satish C Sharma and Augustine G Masih has discovered new aspects of interplay of regulating entries in the Seventh Schedule: alcoholic liquor for human consumption (Entry 51/84, List II) and intoxicating liquor (Entry 8, List II) and overarching control of Centre over all industries (Entry 51 of List I).
Interestingly, there is no mention of industrial alcohol in any entry in the three lists – central, state or concurrent.
During the two-day-long inconclusive arguments, lawyers used the words ‘alcohol’ and ‘liquor’ so often that a judge smilingly remarked, “So much alcohol and liquor in arguments that it has a physical effect.”
States argued that Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) or undenatured ethyl alcohol, over which states have exclusive regulatory powers, was the ‘mother raw material’ for potable liquor and denatured spirit (industrial alcohol).
They said ethyl alcohol became industrial alcohol after denaturation and, hence, states alone would logically have exclusive regulatory control over industrial alcohol.
Appearing for UP, senior advocate Arvind Datar said the seven-judge bench comprising then CJI Venkataramiah and Justices Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Ranganath Misra, G L Oza, B C Ray, K N Singh and S Natrajan erred in Synthetics judgment in 1989 by equating industrial alcohol with ethyl alcohol and rectified spirit.
“Net result is that even rectified spirits meant for human consumption and cleared to IMFL units or for pharmaceutical products ceases to be under the control of states. The adverse consequence is that control over production/manufacture of rectified spirit is neither with central govt nor with state govt,” he said.

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