The bench said since the time limit of March 31 was granted based on the request of Tamil Nadu no further extension can be granted.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a batch of applications seeking modification of the December 2016 order banning liquor shops within 500 metres of state and National Highways across the country with a view to preventing accidents caused due to drunken driving.
With the court giving a deadline of March 31 for closure of all the liquor shops located on highways, several states and liquor shop licencees have sought modification of the order. The bench rejected the plea of Tamil Nadu to close 1,731 liquor shops run by TASMAC located near state highways to extend the time limit up to November 30, 2017. The bench said since the time limit of March 31 was granted based on the request of Tamil Nadu no further extension can be granted.
A bench comprising Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao disposing of the applications from several states made it clear that the December 15, 2016 directing closure of liquor shops within 500 metres of state and National Highways will equally apply to bars, pubs, hotels and restaurants serving liquor. Since the object of the earlier order was to prevent drunken driving, the bench said, any relaxation to hotels and restaurants will defeat the object. The bench, however, permitted the licencees who were awarded licence before December 15, 2016 to continue beyond March 31 and up to September 30, 2017.
The bench, however took note of the contentions that in municipal areas and towns 500 metres beyond state highways will be difficult to be implemented and said in such areas no liquor shop can be located within 220 metres of the highways passing through these areas. Besides Tamil Nadu, states like Kerala, Punjab, Telangana, had sought modification of the order.
The All-Assam Indian Made Foreign Liquors Retailers’ Association wanted modification of the order, saying it virtually banned liquor shops in the state as the definition of state highways in the local statute included all roads.The apex court, in its December 15, 2016 judgment, had ordered a ban on all liquor shops along national as well as state highways across the country and made it clear that licences of the existing shops will not be renewed after March 31, 2017. It had also directed that all signages indicating the presence of liquor vends will be prohibited along national and state highways. The States had also taken the stand that the Order only prohibits the liquor vends and not for restaurants and hotels on the highways serving liquor.