Supreme Court to Deliberate on Industrial Alcohol Classification Amidst Central-State Dispute

Khushbu Kumari Jha
Supreme Court to Deliberate on Industrial Alcohol Classification Amidst Central State Dispute
Supreme Court to Deliberate on Industrial Alcohol Classification Amidst Central State Dispute

Explore the Supreme Court’s deliberations on the classification of industrial alcohol versus intoxicating liquor, amidst a central-state dispute. Unravel the legal intricacies and potential ramifications of this landmark case, with implications for revenue distribution and regulatory jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court finds itself embroiled in a complex legal battle over the classification of ‘industrial alcohol’ versus ‘intoxicating liquor’, igniting a longstanding dispute between the central and state governments. This contentious issue, with roots tracing back years, now rests before a nine-judge bench, including Justice Bibi Nagarathna, who is poised to become the first female Chief Justice of India in 2027, following in her father's footsteps.

The crux of the matter lies in discerning whether ‘industrial alcohol’ should fall under the purview of state regulations or remain subject to central oversight. The legal tussle revolves around intricate interpretations of entries within the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, particularly regarding intoxicating liquors for human consumption and industrial liquors.

During the two-day hearing, attorneys engaged in a spirited debate, inundating the courtroom with references to ‘alcohol’ to the point where one judge wryly noted the intoxicating effect of the discourse. States contend that undenatured ethyl alcohol, also known as extra neutral alcohol (ENA), serves as the primary ingredient for both potable liquor and denatured spirit, thereby warranting exclusive state regulatory control over industrial alcohol.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, representing Uttar Pradesh, challenged the Supreme Court’s 1989 Synthetics judgment, arguing that it erroneously equated industrial liquor with ethyl alcohol and rectified spirit. The central and state governments stand at loggerheads, each vying for jurisdictional control over this lucrative sector, vital for revenue generation.

As the Supreme Court grapples with the intricate legal nuances surrounding the classification of industrial alcohol, the outcome of this landmark case holds profound implications for the regulatory landscape and revenue distribution between the central and state authorities. With Justice Bibi Nagarathna's pivotal role in the proceedings, poised to make history as the first female Chief Justice, the resolution of this dispute may reverberate across India's judicial and administrative spheres for years to come.