The Supreme Court recently ordered a ban on liquor vends along national and state highways, keeping in mind accidents due to drunken driving. It had said that the liquor vends will have to move 500 metres away from the highways and also should not be visible from there. Meanwhile, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant has questioned the order by the Apex court. Earlier, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi also criticised the ban saying that the judgement needs to be rectified as it will affect the budget of the states. Kant, however, asked why is there a need to ‘kill tourism’ when it creates so many jobs. According to the order, the licences of shops near the highways will not be renewed now.
Meanwhile, Kant responding to a news that 1 million jobs will be hit following the SC verdict, wrote on Twitter: “Tourism creates jobs.Why kill it? Supreme Court’s highway liquor ban verdict may hit 1 million jobs…” Additionally, in its order on December 15 in 2016, the apex court had said, “The expressways witnessed 4,208 accident cases, 4,229 injured and 1,802 deaths. Figures are also available for the distribution of road accidents by causes during 2014. 1.38 lakh persons were injured in road accidents involving dangerous or careless driving and 42,127 deaths occurred.”
According to an IE report, one day following the Supreme Court order of a ban on the sale of liquor within 500 metres of highways, a huge number of liquor outlets remained closed across India. According to the report, the excise departments of many states have claimed that hundreds of liquor stores have been closed because of suspension of licences. Haryana government has gone on to say that there will be a loss of Rs 100 crore or more to the state exchequer. In Punjab, not only the outlets but also wedding venues have reportedly been affected.
In West Bengal there are 1,800 liquor stores within 500 metres of highways, generating a total of over Rs 1,000 crore in revenue for the state, IE reported. this is the case in many other states. Meanwhile, states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka still have time to move out of the locations near highways, as their licenses will get expired later in the year.
Meanwhile, the bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar has clarified that December 15, 2016, order banning liquor stores within 500 metres of highways shall remain operative for areas other than specified in the recent order (areas with specific population).