Sunburn strife: Bombay HC instructs strict control of drugs, alcohol


Metros, Mumbai

The court directed the government to file an affidavit listing the steps it would undertake to prevent underage consumption of alcohol.

The Sunburn festival, known for its electronic music dance, will be held in Kesnand village at the outscirts of Pune between December 28 and December 31 (Photo: Facebook)

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit, listing the steps it proposed to take to ensure that those yet to attain the legal age for consuming alcohol did not violate the law at the upcoming "Sunburn music festival" in Pune.

A bench of justices Shantanu Kemkar and Rajesh Ketkar also directed the state government to take an undertaking from the organisers of the festival, stating that they would pay all the pending entertainment and related taxes from last year's festival as well as the dues for this year's event.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Pune resident Ratan Luth, seeking that the organisers of the event were not granted a liquor license.

As per the petition, the festival is scheduled to take place from December 28 to January 1 and around three lakh people are expected to take part in it.

Several of those attending the festival would be minors, school students etc. and thus, the organisers must not serve liquor at the event to ensure that no underage drinking took place, the petitioner had sought.

He had also cited several news reports, claiming that in 2013, when the festival was organised at Goa, several instances of underage drinking and consumption of drugs were reported.

At this, the bench asked why the organisers could not keep the event restricted for only those who were 18 years of age and above.

"How will the state keep an eye on three lakh people? How will it ensure that youngsters are not smoking or drinking illegally? Why not allow only those who are 18 and above?" it asked.

In Maharashtra, those who are 21 years of age and above are permitted to consume beer. However, one can consume hard liquor in the state only after turning 25.

Percept India, the organisers of the event, told the court today that the event had music, which "appealed to 15-year-olds too".

The organisers also said they had already sold several tickets and booked international artistes for the event, and that they would ensure that no laws were broken during the festival.

Meanwhile, the state's counsel, Abhinandan Vagyani, informed the court that the organisers had agreed to have a segregated and colour-coded entry based on age groups.

"Those below 20 years will be given green bands, those above 21, but under 25, will have yellow bands and those guests who are above 25 will have red bands," he said.

"Also, the liquor counter will be at a distance from the stage and the main ground, so that the police personnel deployed there can keep a check," Vagyani said.

He added that police would be deployed at the entry and exit points of the venue of the event.

"Our police will ensure that what happened in Goa does not happen here," Vagyani said.

While the bench directed Vagyani to put all his submissions in the affidavit, it also said the police must ensure that there was enough of its staff to maintain law- and-order at the event as well as in the city.

"The timing of the event is such that you (police) will have to not just keep a watch on it, but also across the city. Ensure that your entire staff does not happily go to the event," it said.

The court directed the state to file the affidavit by December 20.