Supreme Court to hear Assam liquor retailers’ plea on order modification
New Delhi, Jan 18: The Supreme Court will on February 3 hear a plea by liquor retailers in Assam for modification of an apex court order last year that banned the sale of liquor within 500 metres on either side of the national and state highways across the country.
A bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud agreed to hear the plea by the petitioner — All Assam IMFL Retailers Association — which said that the definition of state highway was so wide that the enforcement of the December 15 Supreme Court order would adversely affect liquor trade in the state.
In its December 15 order, the Supreme Court had also said that no liquor vend should be visible from the highways, while directing the state governments not to grant fresh licences for the sale of liquor along national and state highways in their respective jurisdictions.
The petitioner’s counsel Subodh Pathak told the bench that the definition of state highway was all-encompassing, thereby affecting a large number of existing liquor shops.
Section 2 of the Assam Highways Act, 1989, says that highway means “any public thoroughfare, whether a road, street, lane, bridle path, or a foot-trade, whether surfaced or unsurfaced, whether on land owned by the state government or a local authority or on land belonging to a private person over which the public have or have acquired a right of way by usage, and includes —
(a) Slopes, barn, burrow-pits, footpaths, pavements, and side drains of any such thoroughfare;
(b) All bridges culverts, causeways, carriageways, or other road structures, built on or across such thoroughfares;
(c) Trees, fences, posts, and other highways, accessories and materials and material stacks on the thoroughfare or on land attached to the thoroughfare, but does not include the National Highways as defined under the National Highways Act, 1956.