Like Sikkim and Meghalaya, now Arunachal and Andaman & Nicobar Islands too will enjoy full exemption from the 500 metre cap on liquor sale on National Highways and State Highways
In a relief to the state and the Union territory, the Supreme Court today relaxed the 500-metre cap on liquor vends across the national and state highways there taking into account their topography
State of Kerala too had filed a petition for modification but its counsel said several of the prayers had by now become infructous and he wanted to amend the application. It will be freshly filed and heard later.
The bench of chief justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L N Rao gave three weeks time to Uttarakhand to submit data to prove they too deserved an exemption going by their geography and topography.
Lawyer appearing for Arunachal Pradesh said that 80 percent of the state was covered by forests and, out of a total revenue of Rs 441.61 crore, Rs 210 crore came from liquor sale.
Similarly, the bench also allowed the prayer of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and relaxed the 500-metre cap.
The apex court had on 31 March said that liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways will have to shut down from 1 April, but had exempted the hill states of Sikkim, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh and areas having a population up to 20,000.
Yesterday in a huge blow to bars and several hotels across the country, the bench had dismissed their plea for modification of order banning sale of liquor along state and national highways holding that such requests are ‘unprecedented’ and not maintainable.
The bench also said it will dismiss a petition filed by NGO Arrive Safe Society against a recent Punjab and Haryana HC order allowing the Chandigarh administration to denotify highways within city limits, thus allowing bars and hotels functioning within city limits to re-open.
"We are clear about it. As long as the highways remained highways, sale of liquor within 500 metres was banned. But now they have ceased to be highways. Our judgment was based on intelligible differentia that highways with high speed traffic should be liquor free zones, but traffic is slow within city limits. It said law passed by the legislature or the executive can take away the basis of a judgment but cannot undo or de-legitimise a judgment”, CJI Khehar had said.
The denotification, as in many other states, was done apparently to circumvent an earlier court order that banned liquor sale within 500 meters of state and national highways.
The NGO Arrive Safe had approached the court in appeal against an order passed by the Punjab and Haryana high court on 16 March which refused to quash the notification.
It was contended that by denotifying state highways and renaming them major district roads, the Chandigarh administration had made a mockery of the Supreme Court order of 15 December, 2016 setting out the distance criteria.
Calling the notification arbitrary, the plea noted that the notification does not state the reason or criteria for declassifying some roads from “state highways” to “major district roads” while letting some roads remain “state highways”.