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Highway liquor ban: SC clarifies order, says no ban within city limits


The Supreme Court on Wednesday clarified that the ban on sale of alcohol within 500 meters of state and national highways does not apply within city limits, granting relief to the liquor and hospitality industry.

This move will enable liquor vends, which fall under the city limits but operate within 500 meters of a highway, to open shutters and apply for license renewal.

The apex court said in the order, “The purpose of the directions contained in the order dated 15 December 2016 is to deal with the sale of liquor along and in proximity of highways properly understood, which provide connectivity between cities, towns and villages. The order does not prohibit licensed establishments within municipal areas. This clarification shall govern other municipal areas as well. We have considered it appropriate to issue this clarification to set at rest any ambiguity.”

While the top court had last month allowed state authorities to denotify highways passing through the municipal limits, many outlets were still waiting for denotification orders.

“About 15,000 odd stores are still closed and out of that, about two-thirds are on-traders of bars and restaurants,” Anand Kripalu, managing director at top spirits maker United SpiritsBSE 4.10 %, had said in an investor call last month.

With this order, the industry expects 85% of the bars and restaurants to start business. “Now licenses will be renewed and in another two to four weeks the industry will settle down and get back to business,” said Riyaz Amlani, president of National Restaurant Association of India. He added that between April -when the ban was implemented – and now, the hospitality industry has lost more than Rs 1000 crore worth of business.

The ban had severely impacted the spirits and beer industry in India too. While the spirits industry was down by about 4 per cent, beer industry was down by 2 per cent.

Source: Economic Times

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