Excise officials, pubs to seek clarity on SC’s highway booze ban

Gurugram, Feb 10 (IANS) A Supreme Court order banning the sale of liquor within 500 meters of national and state highways after March 31 has led to confusion among pub and bar owners here, as the Excise Department itself needs clarity to implement the ruling, an official said.

The Excise Department has identified 43 liquor vends and 143 pubs within 500 meters of two national highways — NH-8 (Delhi-Jaipur) and NH-248A (Gurugram-Alwar) — in he Gurugram area, an official of the department said.

“The headquarters will take a call on whether to shut only liquor vends or also cancel the licences of pubs and bars located within 500 metres of the highways,” he said.

The Supreme Court on December 15 directed states and union territories to implement the order from the next financial year.

The court also directed the administration, the police and the Excise Department to chalk out plans within a month for enforcing the order, but the officials say they themselves need clarity on the ruling.

Owners of pubs and bars in Gurugram’s Sector 29 Cyber Hub and along the Sohna Road have decided to move the Supreme Court to seek a clarification on its order.

An official of the Bar and Pub Owners Association said: “We don’t have any communication from the Excise Department yet. So, we have sought an appointment with them to seek clarity on the order.”

“Due to lack of proper description in the ruling, all food items and beverages have also come under the scanner. More specific guidelines are needed for proper implementation,” he said.

Owners said that nearly Rs 100 crore revenue will be lost and more than 50,000 employees will be rendered jobless if pubs and bars along the highways are forced to down their shutters.

Aruna Singh, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, could not be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts.

(Pradeep Singh can be contacted at pradeepsinghrao@gmail.com)