Delhi HC asks police to start weekly inspections in Safdarjung Enclave to crackdown on illegal pubs

The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the police and the excise department to conduct weekly inspections in a residential area in Safdarjung Enclave to clampdown on unauthorised pubs and bars operating there and serving liquor illegally.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna observed how could the authorities be so innocent to believe that pubs and bars are being run without serving alcohol.

“A person is running a bar and pub and you think he is not serving liquor. How can you be so innocent I am surprised,” Justice Manmohan said.

The court asked the Delhi government to file a supplementary affidavit in the matter.

“Officials of the Excise Department and Delhi Police are directed to inspect the area once a week and file a comprehensive report,” the bench said and listed the matter for further hearing in February 2024.

It also said that the officials should go for the inspection at a time when the bars and pubs are open, preferably in the evening.

The bench was hearing a petition seeking action against unauthorised restaurants and pubs, functioning in basements, in Humayunpur village near Safdarjung Enclave.

Delhi government standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi and lawyer Arun Panwar submitted that regular raids are being conducted in Humayunpur and Arjun Nagar and action is being taken against the offenders.

“A total of 19 such clubs/pubs/bars have been closed after taking action against them in 2023 itself,” the status report by police said.

Advocates Ashish Mohan and Praveen Singh, appearing for petitioner Prashant Kumar Umrao, asked how could the authorities allow such bars to run and serve liquor in residential areas.

The petitioner has alleged that these outlets have become a source of nuisance for not only the residents but also those visiting nearby public places such as Deer Park.

The petition said people visiting the bars in question leave “in a severely drunken state” and become a threat to the residents, especially children, by causing accidents. The local residents often witness public nuisance in the form of fights and the loud music from these outlets disturbs the peace in the area, it added.

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The plea further claimed that the operations of the bars have resulted in traffic problems in the area and their location is such that there is no sufficient space for emergency vehicles to move in case of a fire.

The high court had earlier asked the excise authorities here to look into the allegations of unauthorised pubs and bars operating in the residential area in Safdarjung Enclave.

It had said the excise department’s status report finding “nothing incriminatory” at these premises during inspection “did not inspire confidence” and expressed concerns over alleged non-compliance with fire safety norms in the outlets which were stated to be functioning in basements in Humayunpur village.

The lawyer for the Delhi government had said no excise licence was awarded to the 24 restaurants operating in the area and barring one against whom an FIR has been registered, liquor was not found in the premises during a physical inspection and some joints were found to be closed.

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