The ‘fate’ of liquor shops on Highways to be known tomorrow

Highway Side liquor shops
Liquor ban on State and National Highways: SC reduces distance from 500m to 220m.

New Delhi, March 28: The Drinkers of the states like Kerala, Punjab, and Telangana suffering a lot of difficulties after the Supreme Court’s order on banning liquor shops within 500 meters of national and state highways.

The Supreme Court to hear tomorrow, pleas seeking a modification of the apex court’s earlier order. States like Kerala, Punjab and Telangana have sought modification of the order which is scheduled to be operational from April 1st.

In December 2016, the Supreme Court had ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national as well as state highways across the country and made it clear that licenses of existing shops will not be renewed after March 31, 2017.

The apex court order also directed that all signages indicating the presence of liquor shops will be prohibited on national and state highways. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao are the other members issued the order.

The order also states that the existing licenses of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after March 31, 2017.

The Supreme Court had expressed concern over 1.5 lakh accident deaths every year in road mishaps, saying it may direct closure of liquor shops on national and state highways across the country, besides removal of the signages indicating their location.

The court reminding the state government of its constitutional commitment to prohibit liquor sale, the bench had asked the states to do something for general public considering that nearly 1.5 lakh people were dying every year.

The Supreme Court bench had also expressed its sorrow over alleged non-intervention of various states in removing liquor shops alongside roads which give rise to drunken driving and consequential accident cases.

It also said that merely revenue generation cannot be a valid reason for a state or a Union territory to give license for liquor vendors on highways and the authorities should adopt a positive attitude to remove the threat.

The bench had also rapped the Centre for not doing anything concrete for the last 10 years forcing the court to step in.

Several petitions have been filed on the issue including the one which referred to the 2015 report of the ministry of road transport and highways and said almost 5 lakh accidents occurred last year in India, killing 1,46,000 people and leaving thrice the number injured.

It was alleged that despite the recommendation of a committee to the ban of the sale of alcohol on state and national highways, states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were sticking to their existing excise policies under which licenses were being issued to liquor shops along the highways.

An analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour,” the Supreme Court had said.