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‘Supreme Court ban on national highways liquor vends does not apply to bars’


Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi has told the Kerala government that the Supreme Court order banning liquor vends within 500 metres of state and national highways does not apply to bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

The AG’s view could apply to other states as well as the court imposed deadline to shut down liquor vends from April 1 approaches amid a discussion over the effect on areas such as Gurgaon’s high profile Cyber Hub with its bars that lie alongside the Delhi-Jaipur highway .

State governments had strongly opposed the ban citing huge loss of revenue. Kerala government had sought the AG’s opinion as it was facing a huge problem in the state as the deadline of March 31 to cancel all licences of liquor vends was fast approaching.

TOI asked Rohatgi whether this opinion would not put at naught the effect of the SC ban as liquor vends would soon convert themselves into bars and pubs. Rohatgi said the judgment was clear in its application only to liquor vends.

He said if bars and restaurants serving liquor were to be brought within the ambit of the SC judgment, the court would have said so in its decision. Moreover, it was not a valid argument to equate liquor vends with pubs and restaurants serving liquor Rohatgi said bars, pubs and restaurants were exempt from the ambit of the SC ban and added that the December 15 judgment categorically and specifically applied to liquor vends and not other establishments serving liquor to patrons.

The SC on December 15 had directed state governments not to renew licences of liquor vends operating within 500 metres of state and national highways after April 1, holding them as a prime reason for fatalities caused by drunken driving.

The order was passed by the SC on a PIL filed by “Arrive Safe” NGO which said nearly 1.42 lakh people died annually on roads in India because of accidents, drunken driving being a major contributor to this high toll of human lives.

Source: Times of India

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