Kerala High Court: Hotels cannot be restrained from carrying out their business activities late night

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In ‘R Ravikumar Vs The Sub Inspector Of Police’ a division bench of Justices KT Sankaran and K Abraham Mathew, set aside a directive issued by the Sub Inspector of the Kerala Police to the petitioner for the closure of his hotel post eleven each night. The question that arose before the bench was whether the Kerala Police Act empowered a police sub inspector to order the closure of hotels and eating joints at any time during day or night. 

In the present case the petitioner owned a hotel and was operating it after having obtained all the essential licenses, approvals from various government departments. The respondent issued directions to the hotel owned by the petitioner, prohibiting it from carrying out business late night, on the grounds that it attracted anti social elements which was detrimental to public interest. The petitioner pleaded that this order of the respondent was passed without having given the petitioner the opportunity to be heard and was autocratic, biased and lacked jurisdiction. Thus being violative of article 19 1(g) of the fundamental rights enshrined under the Indian Constitution.

The bench observed “Running of a hotel is not detrimental to the interests of the public. On the other hand, it caters to the needs of the general public. There is no case for the fifth respondent that the petitioner committed any offence. No crime is registered against him. That anti-social elements used to visit the hotel is not a ground to direct the owner of a hotel to close down the hotel after 11 pm. That offences are being committed in the locality by anti social-elements is also not a ground to stop the running of the hotel after 11 pm".  The bench set aside the directive issued by the respondent and allowed the writ petition of the petitioner.

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