Share prices of major liquor companise were up between 1.5 to 6 per cent today on the back of hope that the Supreme Court of India may allow states to bypass its ban on selling or serving liquor on highways. States have been doing this by reclassifying state highways as ‘district roads’. Although Supreme Court is yet to pronounce a final verdict on it, but going by what it said on Tuesday, chances are that the apex court may allow state governments to bypass its ban on selling/serving liquor on highways.
Among the major liqour producers, shares of United Spirits were up 2.98 per cent on the BSE at Rs 2,590.35, United Brewerie up 0.38 per cent at Rs 806.40, Radico Khaitan up 5.78 per cent at Rs 134.55, Tilaknagar Industries up 6.37 per cent at Rs 12.85, Globus Spirits up 1.64 per cent at Rs 74.35.
Clarifying its earlier order imposing a blanket ban on sale of liquor on highways that have led to protests in many parts of the country, a bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar said there was “nothing wrong with denotifying” highways and calling them district roads if such roads are within a city.
The apex court said that city roads were different from highways and the idea was just to stop the incidents of drunk driving and road rage that sometimes follow. “We could have considered but the denotified highways are those which fall within the city where there is no fast moving traffic,” the chief justice said.
The court said that the purpose of a ban on liquor sales on highways was to ensure that speeding vehicles don’t have drivers under the influence of liquor. “There are no such issues when the roads are within the city,” it said, while refusing to interfere in the reclassification of national and state highways in Chandigarh to get around its ban on sale of liquor along highways.
The case will next be heard on July 11 and if the Supreme Court passes any order on the lines it indicated on Tuesday, it would be a huge relief to many states that have reclassified highways to avoid closure of liquor vends and bars that has caused a huge revenue loss to them.