Highway Liquor Ban: Special Bench Fails To Assemble; Annoyed AG To Mention Before CJI Tomorrow

Highway Liquor Ban: Special Bench Fails To Assemble; Annoyed AG To Mention Before CJI Tomorrow

Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohtagi, several leading senior advocates and a large number of lawyers were left annoyed on Monday after a special bench comprising Justice L.Nageswara Rao and Justice Chandrachud failed to assemble in the afternoon for the scheduled hearing of the plea pertaining to serving of liquor in bars and restaurants on highways.

A visibly upset AG and others lawyers decided to mention the matter on Tuesday morning at 10.30 before Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, as the licence of several restaurant owners will expire on March 31.

Senior lawyers KK Venugopal, CA Sundaram, Shekhar Naphade, PP Rao, Raju Ramachandran, Dushyant Dave, Salman Khurshid, Venkatramani, Jayant Bhushan, CS Vaidyanathan, KV Vishwanathan, Arvind Dattar and Supreme Court Bar Association President RS Suri were also present to represent their clients.

Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of the three-judge bench headed by the CJI, was not able to be free to sit with Justice Nageswar Rao in the special bench, which was scheduled to assemble at 3 pm in court number 9.

The small courtroom of Justice Nageswar Rao, who was also waiting to hold the court, was jam-packed by over 100 lawyers for the matter.

The lawyers were informed around 4.15 pm by the court master that the special bench would not assemble as Justice Chandrachud was not available.

Reacting to that, the AG said: “This is not fair. We should mention tomorrow.”

All other lawyers decided to be present in the court at the time of mentioning on Tuesday morning.

“The litigants, who have come from far, were upset as the matter was listed before a special bench. We were hopeful that the AG was assured that the bench will assemble today. However, after waiting for more than an hour, we were informed that the matter was adjourned, citing the reason that Justice Chandrachud was sitting with the CJI in his three-judge bench and will not be available.

"We should have been told much before the time that the bench will not sit. We all will be present tomorrow in the CJI court, when the AG will mention as the deadline will expire on Friday,” a lawyer, who was also present in the court, told LiveLaw.