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Liquor licence holders get no relief from high court


BENGALURU: The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday dismissed a batch of petitions filed by liquor licence holders for renewal of licence.

The Excise Department had refused to renew the licences following the December 2016 ruling of the Supreme Court that prohibits liquor outlets on highways. The court had directed the Excise Department not to renew the licences of liquor establishments located within 500 metres of national highways.

Justice Vineet Kothari of the high court stated that liquor licence holders cannot seek directions for consideration of their application under the State Excise Act for renewal of their licence in the teeth of the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court.

The judge ruled that none of the judgements relied upon by the petitioners’ counsels really supported their contention that even without a proper denotification under the National Highways Act, 1956, for MG Road and Brigade Road and without declaring the bypasses created being notified and declared as national highways, the court should not treat them as NH 4 and NH7.

The order said that NH4 and NH7, earlier known as NH44, included the present MG Road and Brigade Road and were definitely covered by the schedule at the time of commencement of the National Highways Act, 1956. The non-mention of these roads specifically in the schedule does not mean they were not part of the national highway.

NH44 runs from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and passes through several states. A detailed description of the individual roads of any particular city could not be included in the schedule.

The Central government had earlier written to Karnataka, rejecting its request to denotify the national highways.

Appeal planned

Liquor licence holders plan to go in for appeal. The owner of a pub on Church Street says they will study the judgement before going in for appeal. “The high court still has to spell out the reasons. Once that comes out, we’ll know what steps to take. As of now, the only option is to appeal.”

He cited the Supreme Court’s ruling on July 3, 2017, that gave relief to the state of Chandigarh when it said there was nothing wrong in denotifying state/local highways as district roads within the city. “When other states can do it, why isn’t our government doing?” he asked.

Relocation not an option

Most pubs and bars do not feel relocation is an option as they spend as much as Rs 3 crore on the space, and relocation will only result in losses.

Nitesh, of BlueFrog on Church Street, said though none of their staff had quit, they would be relocated if denotification didn’t happen. “We have promised our employees they will not be fired, but we will shift them to other places in Bengaluru.”

Source: Deccan Herald

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