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No highway liquor ban on licensed bars in municipal areas, clarifies Supreme Court


NEW DELHI: In a significant observation made in an order issued on the liqour ban matter on Wednesday, the Supreme Court has clarified that the liqour ban does not apply to licensed establishments falling within municipal areas.

The Supreme Court order was in response to a special leave petition filed by the NGO Arrive Safe Society of Chandigarh against the Union Territory of Chandigarh. The Supreme Court had dismissed this petition on 11 July and had indicated that its reasons for dismissal would follow.

Hoteliers have unanimously welcomed the move. Hotel association members said this would drastically turn around the situation and would come as a breather to hotels and restaurants across the country especially in cities like Pune which were severely hit by the ban.

“The Chandigarh hospitality association is grateful to the apex court for giving a clarification on its order dated 15 December 2016 whereby it has been clarified that the liqour ban on highways is not applicable to licensed premises within municipal limits of a city. We request the Chandigarh UT administration to restore status quo of 31 March 2017 (on payment of license fee) for hospitality outlets affected by the ban,” said Ankit Gupta, president of the association.

Restaurateurs and hoteliers hit by Supreme Court’s March 31 order in cities like Pune said they should be able to resume operations as usual tomorrow.

No highway liquor ban on licensed bars in municipal areas, clarifies Supreme Court
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“We will ask our members to open their restaurants tomorrow after meeting the excise officials. The order is very clear. All licensed establishments within municipal city limits are covered. There is no need for any interpretation,” said Ganesh Shetty, president of the Pune Restaurants and Hotels Association.

Dismissing the special leave petition filed by Arrive Safe Society of Chandigarh against the Chandigarh administration, the Supreme Court in its order stated: “The purpose of the directions contained in the order dated 15 December 2016 is to deal with the sale of liqour 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 and to obviate repeated recourse to IAs before the court.”

The Arrive Safe Society had moved the Supreme Court against the Chandigarh administration challenging the latter’s decision to denotify certain state highways as major district roads.

Pradeep Shetty, a member of the legal committee at Federation of Hotels and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI) said that the order mitigates the problem faced by the hotel and restaurant industry by about 70%.

“The industry lost around Rs 200 crore of F&B revenue and the MICE business declined in all affected establishments. This order augurs well for the industry,” he said.

Source: Economic Times

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