The bench prima facie observed there was nothing wrong with denotifying highways if such roads are within a city. “The purpose of its ban was to ensure high speeding vehicles on highways don't have drivers under influence of liquor. There are no such issues when the roads are within the city", the bench said.
Supreme Court today declined to stay the Punjab government's recent declassification of state highways saying "driving within the city is different from outside the city."
"We could have appreciate if road was in the nature of highways where there is a fast moving traffic, " a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Justice J S Khehar said.
"All roads notified are inside the city where there is no fast moving traffic, " the bench also said.
The de-notification, 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 court, however, agreed to here the petition on July 11.
The NGO Arrive Safe Society of Chandigarh has moved Supreme Court alleging that declassification of state highways and municipal roads by Punjab government is to circumvent the Apex Court order banning sale of liquor on highways.
The petitioner NGO said the goal of liquor ban order (of SC) is to address is to avoid drivers in a drunken state in fast moving traffic.
"Traffic within the city is very different from traffic outside city limits. Purpose of the order is to discourage liquor consumption by drivers traveled between cities.
The NGO has already moved a petition in Punjab and Haryana High Court against state government's move. The court had issued notice and sought reply but granted no stay.
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”.