Almost three months after the Supreme Court issued an order to ban liquor shops near highways, the Chandigarh administration has issued notification to convert the major state and national highways into district roads with immediate affect, a report by the ‘India TV’ has said. With this, liquor shops near highways will continue to operate.
Last December, the apex court had ordered removal of liquor shops on national and state highways. The apex court ruled that licenses for liquor shops cannot be granted for highways. The SC further ruled that the existing licenses for the liquor shops along the highways were not to be renewed.
The Supreme Court was reportedly hearing petitions that challenged the High Court verdicts which had ruled that the liquor shops should be located at a certain distance from national and state highways, in a manner that they were neither visible or accessible to the commuters. SC had earlier indicated that it might be ordering the closing down of all liquor shops along the highways for the safety of the commuters, which according to the apex court’s opinion distracted them and resulted in accidents.
The order by the top court says that liquor shops must be at least 500 metres away from these highways. It also ordered the liquor banners and ads to be removed. According to reports, these orders are to be implemented by the Chief Secretary and police chiefs of various states. Earlier on December 7, the SC had said that revenue generation could not be held as a valid reason for granting licenses to liquor shops along highways.
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The apex court had observed that the authorities must adopt a positive attitude to get rid of the drunken driving and the fatalities due to it. The Supreme Court had also severely criticised the Centre not doing anything concrete to deal with the menace. The SC had said that the centre had been saying for the last 10 years that liquor shops on highways must be removed but hasn’t done anything significant and thus had necessitated the stepping in of the top court.