The Supreme Court today sought responses from the Centre, states and Union Territories on a plea seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside state and national highways due to rising fatalities in road mishaps across the nation.
A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar issued notice on a PIL which alleged that states and UTs were not acting despite comprehensive recommendations of a panel headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan, former apex court judge, that there should be “ban on sale of alcohol on state and national highways”.
The PIL filed by E V Balakrishnan, through lawyer M Rambabu, has referred to the 2015 report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and said that almost five lakh accidents occurred last year in India, killing 1,46,000 people and leaving thrice the number injured.
Besides states and UTs, the court issued notices to various central ministries including Finance, Road Transport and Highways and Home Affairs.
The plea alleged that despite the recommendation of the Committee to ban of sale of alcohol on State and National Highway”, states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were sticking to their prevailing excise policies under which licenses are being issued to liquor shops along the highways.
“The present Writ Petition is …seeking the kind indulgence of this court for issuance of a Writ …to UOI, all Indian States and Union Territories to repeal/amend their Excise Policies regarding issuing of licenses to liquor shops along the State and National Highways, with immediate effect, considering the rise in road accidents,” it said.
“The analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that about 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour.
“India being a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration, it is imperative that policy guidelines are framed to control road accidents. Also, the Excise Policies of Indian States and Union Territories should be amended to conform to the spirit of Article 47 r/w Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the plea said.