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Economy

High Court declares sale of alcohol in estates illegal

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The law outlaws the establishment of bars and any other alcoholic outlets within a radius of 300 metres from learning institutions. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

It is now illegal for bars and night-clubs to operate near schools and residential areas, a court has ruled.

Justice Chacha Mwita ruled that the Constitution, in Article 42, gives everyone the right to a clean and healthy environment which should be free from pollutants such as noise.

“Allowing bars and liquor selling businesses within residential areas will thus violate the residents’ right to live in dignity and healthy environment, fundamental rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights,” said Justice Mwita. “They expect least disturbance. Such places require a peaceful and healthy environment for rest and co-existence,” he observed.

The judge was delivering the verdict in an application filed by Muimara Estate Residents Association accusing Nairobi County of allowing a trader, Kariuki Kimiti, to operate a bar within their estate which has young and school going children despite objections from the residents.

The law outlaws the establishment of bars and any other alcoholic outlets within a radius of 300 metres from learning institutions.

But licensing authorities have been selective in enforcing the law with permits being influenced by other factors.

Special consideration is given to bars in shopping centres near schools.

The judge said that operating liquor selling businesses within residential estates is illegal, unlawful and violates the residents’ right to live in a peaceful, tranquil environment and with dignity.

Justice Mwita said that selling liquor in residential estates further violates residents’ right to privacy guaranteed under article 31 of the Constitution.

“It would be difficult to control the behaviour of people who take liquor within a residential estate.

“Lack of behavioural control breaches the resident’s privacy,” Justice Mwita ruled. The judge added that the right to privacy protects the liberty of a person to make certain crucial decisions regarding his well-being without coercion, intimidation, or interference from anyone.

The court directed the county government not to license a trader or any other person to operate a bar or any other alcohol selling business within Muimara Estate in Nairobi.

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