This Goan resto-bar in Pune will no longer serve liquor

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Chaitraly Deshmukh

Pune : The long tussle between the management of the city based famous Poona Goan Institute (PGI) and a member cum contractor who runs the restaurant cum bar in the premises of PGI has been directed by the Pune District Collector to cancel the licence. Despite the order it was alleged by the management that the contractor kept on selling liquor.

Lawyer Charmaine Lazarus is the President of the Poona Goan Institute (PGI) which is one of the 116-year-old organisations in the city. PGI is situated in Nana Peth area. She took up this issue and raised it before the competent authorities to procure justice.

Speaking to Pune Pulse, Lazarus said, “We had a liquor license FL4-7 in the name of the president since 1986. Between 1995 and 2005 the managing committee had entered into an agreement with Anthony D’souza to lease out a part of our property termed as the PGI restaurant and permit room for a renewable term period of five years and under which he was directed to pay all the bills related to the restaurant at his own cost which included water, electricity as well as excise renewal and others. He was given a space of 450 square feet which he encroached more than 4,000 square feet.”

She further said, “Since August 2009 the managing committee decided and started acting to terminate the contract of Anthony D’souza by asking him to surrender the license to the club which was carried out by him and which is an admitted fact in our later communication that we had with him. We had also informed the state excise department about his malpractices but they too did not take any cognisance in this regard.  Later we wrote another letter in November 2019 seeking information about the license as the physical custody of it is not with us nor were the renewal papers ever brought to us by the contractor he misrepresented and renewed the license.”

She added, “Almost 10 years he has been defaulting on the payments of our rent and personified as if he has political and menacing clout to threaten, harass and abuse.  Even though the club has a licence but for even a day license when there is some party or celebration one has again procure a day license for such occasion. The collector has cancelled the licence but he kept on selling liquor which was not permitted and it was overlooked by the state excise department despite evidence brought to their attention.”

She further said, “We plan to restore the license back based on our terms and conditions as well as we plan to shift the area within which we can serve alcohol for our members.”

Commissioner of state excise department, upholding the order of the collector, stated, “A hearing was fixed by the collector with both the parties, in which it was brought to notice that the agreements on which D’Souza is relying are contrary to the norms led down under the relevant provisions of the Bombay Foreign Liquor Rules 1953, as there is no provision to enter into a contract with a third person without the approval of the collector and therefore the collector by his impugned order permanently cancelled the FL-IV licence of the institute.”

In the said order of the Maharashtra state Excise commissioner K B Umap has also passed observation to the Superintendent State Excise Pune for failing miserably in their duties to interpret the provisions of the Rules and the act.

When contacted Anthony D’souza who is the contractor said, “I am a law abiding person and follow the norms. The liquor license was in the name of PGI management but as the rules under the state excise department there is no such provision. I am falsely implicated in this case. I have sought legal opinion in this regard and soon to approach the competent authorities for seeking justice.”

When contacted Pune based state excise department the officer spoke to Pune Pulse on the condition of anonymity that the legal team is probing and based on their opinion and observation they shall plan to appeal in this regard.