ISLAMABAD – On Monday the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended a Sindh High Court (SHC) decision to seal 120 liquor shops operating in Sindh.

A two-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Ijaz Afzal and Justice Mazhar Alam ruled that the SHC did not have the authority to issue such an order in presence of a law governing the sale of liquor across the country.

Lawyer Shahid Hamid, representing various wine shop owners from Sindh, had challenged the SHC order saying that liquor shops operating in Sindh were licensed and taxed by the government and should be allowed to continue operating without any restrictions.

In his remarks, Justice Afzal noted that the sale of alcohol had been banned in the country in 1979.

‘If someone is found violating the law [regarding the sale of liquor], the police can act against them,’ he said.

He also added that if someone violates the law after the court’s current ruling, contempt proceedings can be initiated against them.

PML-N lawmaker Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council, also argued and said the Hindu religion prohibits consumption of alcohol.

“Some liquor shops exist in close proximity to mosques, temples and churches,” he claimed.

Kumar also requested the apex court to keep the ban intact on liquor shops until the Sindh government files its reply in the high court regarding regulation of sale of liquor.

While overturning the March 2 order of the SHC, the SC said it will hear the wine shop owners’ petition within a period of three weeks.

In its order, the SHC had held that 120 shops operating across the province were illegally selling wine and liquor, without ensuring that it was sold to non-Muslims alone and that too within the prescribed quota.

The SHC had ordered the director general of excise and taxation to seal all the liquor shops in Sindh with immediate effect.