Published: Fri, July 07, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

SC has no problem with states denotifying highways for pubs

SC has no problem with states denotifying highways for pubs

A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar observed that the objective of the ban was to ensure speeding vehicles on highways don't have drivers under the influence of liquor and said: "There are city roads and there are roads outside the city". The court said that the idea was to make sure no speeding drivers on highways are under the influence of alcohol. But, the Chandigarh administration decision was challenged in the apex court and the latter was hearing the same plea when it made that statement. "There are no such issues when the roads are within the city", it said, while refusing to interfere in the reclassification of national and state highways in Chandigarh to get around its ban on sale of liquor along highways.

The NGO had approached the court in appeal against an order passed by the Punjab and Haryana high court on 16 March which refused to quash the notification.

All major roads in Chandigarh fall under the ambit of state highways.

It had also banned all hoardings and signages that could indicate the presence of liquor shops along highways. Reports say that at least 2,000 people were left jobless after the court's order in December 2016.

Although Supreme Court is yet to pronounce a final verdict on it, but going by what it said on Tuesday, chances are that the apex court may allow state governments to bypass its ban on selling/serving liquor on highways.

The Supreme Court had previous year ordered a ban on all liquor shops along national as well as state highways across the nation and prohibited all signages indicating presence of liquor vends. The SC observation would bring relief to five star hotels on the highways in cities like Chandigarh and Gurugram.

According to bar operators and other commentators, while the SC's notification barring sale of liquor on highways was welcome considering the frequently registered drunk-drive cases on highways, freeways intersecting cities are busy points where high-speed driving is not a major worry.

The Uttar Pradesh government has incurred a loss of about Rs 5,000 crore following the Supreme Court order banning all liquor shops along national as well as state highways.

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