SC Leaves It To State Govts To Determine Whether Certain Municipal Areas Warrant Liquor Ban On Highways [Read Order]

SC Leaves It To State Govts To Determine Whether Certain Municipal Areas Warrant Liquor Ban On Highways [Read Order]

Clearing confusion around its order which said the liqour ban along the highways does not apply to licenced establishments falling within the municipal areas, the Supreme Court on Friday said it would be open to the state governments to determine whether the principle, which has been laid down it in July 11, 2017, should also apply to areas covered by local self-governing bodies and statutory development authorities or is the area developed enough to warrant a ban.

“We are inclined to allow the state governments to make this determination since it is a question of fact as to whether an area covered by a local self-governing body is proximate to a municipal agglomeration or is sufficiently developed as to warrant the application of the same principle. In deciding as to whether the principle which has been set down in the order dated 11 July 2017 should be extended to a local self-governing body (or statutory development authority) the state governments would take recourse to all relevant circumstances including the nature and extent of development in the area and the object underlying the direction prohibiting the sale of liquor on national and the state highways,” said a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Amitava Roy and Justice DY Chandrachud.

The bench was hearing several miscellaneous applications arising out of its judgment on liquor ban along highways and subsequent orders delivered in case titled Arrive Safe Society of Chandigarh v The Union Territory of Chandigarh wherein the court had clarified that the ban does not extend to licenced premises within city limits.

It is to be noted that the Supreme Court had banned liquor sale within 500 metres of highways in December, 2016 after noting that nearly 1.46 lakh people died in road accidents every year with drunken driving being one of the major causes.

This was followed by a clarification in July, 2017 with the court saying its ban on sale of liquor does not apply to licenced outlets within municipal limits of a city.

"The application, which came to be disposed of on Friday, had urged the court to interpret paragraph 7 of its order passed on July 11, 2017, wherein the court had said, “The purpose of the directions contained in the order dated 15 December, 2016 is to deal with the sale of liquor along and in proximity of highways properly understood, which provide connectivity between cities, towns and villages. The order does not prohibit licensed establishments within municipal areas. This clarification shall govern other municipal areas as well. We have considered it appropriate to issue this clarification to set at rest any ambiguity and to obviate repeated recourse to IAs, before the Court.”

Contending that the expression ‘municipal areas’ in the said paragraph was not intended to exclude areas within the jurisdiction of local self-governing bodies as many of them may be developed in a manner similar to municipalities while many be geographically proximate to an urban agglomeration, the application urged that an appropriate direction may be issued to obviate uncertainties in application, occasioning the need for repeated recourse to this court or the high courts"

After hearing the parties, the court said on Friday, “We are of the view that the state governments would not be precluded from determining whether the principle which has been laid down by this Court in the order dated 11 July 2017 in Arrive Safe Society case should also apply to areas covered by local self-governing bodies and statutory development authorities”.

“We leave it open to individual licensees to submit their representations to the competent authorities in the state governments if they are so advised upon which appropriate decisions may be taken by the state governments. We have issued this general direction to obviate both litigations before the high courts and repeated recourse to applications to this court,” he said.

Read the Order Here