Excise dept orders closure of liquor shops near highways

Liquor traders hold breath, wait for govt relief over SC order

People who got licence for liquor vends prior to the Dec 15, 2016 verdict can operate till September 30, 2017.

On Thursday, arguing against the ban, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi questioned what would happen to small municipal areas on state highways which fall within this limit. "Some states have sought clarification on the court judgment and we are waiting to see if the Supreme Court gives us relief", Naik said.

However, the court relaxed the ban on the location of liquor shops by reducing it to 220 metres in respect of municipal/local bodies with 20,000 or less population falling along the highways.

However, while listening to pleas of the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government on Friday, the apex court reduced the 500-metre threshold to 220 metres in areas where the local body population is less than 20, 000, reports said.

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The bench said that the count's direction that no licences for liquor vends on highways would be renewed after March 31 would remain effective for rest of the country.

During the hearing, a bench headed by chief justice JS Khehar said the liquor shops were ordered to be removed to a distance of 500 metres from either side of the state and national highway in the "interest of the public health". "The Supreme Court order states that no shops for sale of liquor shall be visible from national or state highway and when it says visibility, they have not mentioned any distance criteria". The states had argued that since there isn't enough land for homes and shops, it would be hard to find sites for liquor sale.

"The objective is to check drunken driving and so there is no dilution of the original order passed by this court". Parrikar said that the necessary directions would be issued by Monday evening, after taking legal opinion.

The court has advised all chief secretaries and DGPs of states to strictly supervise the implementation of this new rule.

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