The Supreme Court held an urgent hearing on the order of December 15 regarding closure of liquor vends alongside the highways to come into effect from April 1, several state liquor associations told Supreme Court on Wednesday that 500m is much higher and should be reduced. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi also agreed with the associations and said that the 500-metre distance should be reduced. SC, however, observed that life is more important than liquor.
It may be recalled that Supreme Court in its December 15, 2016 order had ruled that licenses of existing shops along national and State highways will not be renewed after March 31. This was challenged through petitions by several associations across states. The Supreme Court heard a batch of petitions on Wednesday seeking a modification of its December 2016 order banning liquor vends within 500 meters of State and National Highways across the country.
A Bench, comprising Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and S.K. Kaul, had assured on Tuesday a battery of lawyers led by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that it will ensure that the matters are heard on March 29, 2017.
To that the Chief Justice had said that, “If Justice D.Y. Chandrachud is not available tomorrow, I will constitute a separate Bench.”
On March 28, states like Kerala, Punjab and Telangana approached the court seeking a modification of the order.
On March 23, the Tamil Nadu government had moved the court to extend the time for relocation of retail liquor shops along the highways till the expiry of their license period i.e. up to November 28.
On January 18, the All Assam Indian Made Foreign Liquors Retailers’ Association approached the court seeking a modification of the judgment, saying it virtually banned liquor shops in the State as the definition of State highways in the
local statute included all roads.