Many states in India gradually came in the list of dry states as liquor is being banned in many states and union territories of India since years. Supreme court if India giving the ban of liquor a larger face banned the sale of liquor within 500 meters of highways across the country and further adding to it SC clarified that the ban extends not just to retail liquor outlets but also to bars, pubs and restaurants located on highways. The ban pronounced in a December 15, 2016 judgement, saw liquor trading bodies, some state governments and union territories move the Supreme Court for a modification of its verdict. The court is facing criticisms by many sections of the nation; states and liquor vendors association condemned the court for employing its extraordinary powers under article 142 of the constitution to extend the span of the ban across the country.
On Thursday a three-judge bench of chief justice of India J.S Khehar and D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageshwar Rao ruled on highway liquor banning and declared its decision on the banning as the ultimate decision. Justice Chandrachud further clarified, “excise duties do not create an indefeasible right to the states to grant liquor licences. There is also no entitlement to get liquor licences. It was in public interest that we fixed the distance of liquor vends as 500 metres.” When the court was then after challenged by advocate Rajeev Dhawan that it could not impose restrictions on states based on centre’s studies, justice Chandrachud again said that “it cannot be that people are not allowed to drink and drive on national highways and then they are allowed to drink and drive on state highways.”
There is no question to exempt these establishments, as drinking and driving is one of the major killers plaguing Indian Roads. Urging the court to have a relook at its order on banning liquor outlets on the highways, a senior advocate K.K Venugopal said that the percentage of accidents due to drunk driving was the lowest. He said that while drunk driving was being hammered, nothing was being done to deal with accidents on account of speeding or overloading of trucks. Giving a suggestion, Venugopal further said that those liquor shops which are outside the 100 meter from the edges of the highways but within 500 metres should be allowed to continue.
Providing a partial relaxation in the ban, SC however, reduced the no-liquor zone in local areas with a population of 2000 or less, from 500 meters to 220 meters and in some states the annual excise period may extend beyond April 1, 2017.