The Supreme Court on Friday modified its ban on liquor shops in the close vicinity of highways and directed that cities, towns or municipal corporations, which have less than 20,000 populace could have alcohol vendors beyond 220m. This is a slight change in SC’s earlier direction which had stated that alcohol vendors could not set shop anywhere within the 500 m range of a highway. The direction had been passed due to the increase in road accidents where drivers have been known to be drunk. The SC bench, which consisted of Justice DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao were of the opinion that allowing liquor vending within 500 metres of highways would negate the purpose of curbing drunken driving.
Here’s all you need to know about the case and the verdict:
1) The SC bench technically banned alcohol vending in pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants within 500 metres of state and national highways.
2) In states like Sikkim and Meghalaya, where relocation of 905 of liquor shops was not possible due to terrain have been exempted from the ban.
3) In December, the apex court had ordered a complete shutdown of liquor shops within 500 mts of highways and had directed the govt to not issue excess licenses from March 31.
4) The 2016 order had also stated that all existing licenses would be expired after April 1 and they would not be renewed until the shops relocated according to the court-mandated stipulations. The SC yesterday modified this decision stating that the existing licenses would hold valid until September 30 as not all states had granted excise licenses for a period of April 1 to March 30.
5) The SC also noted that a few people had already invested in getting these licenses and states like Telangana had only issued licenses in November 2016. Although, the operation of such liquor shops would depend on the owners meeting the SC’s stipulations.
6) However, the SC bench said that the Tamil Nadu government would not get any relaxations on the extension as the liquor shops are operated by the state government and it had agreed to the deadline of April 1.
According to IE, the apex court in 2016, had asked the police to make sure of complete shut down of such liquor vends permanently within the deadline. It had also ordered all the chief secretaries and police heads of every state to decide on a plan after consulting with the excise and municipal authority’s. The SC had also said that these directives as millions of lives were at stake and the governments had failed to control drunken driving or ban liquor shops along the highways.