The Supreme Court on Friday upheld its December 15 order, which said all liquor vendors along national and state highways will need to shut shop. This means that thousands of establishments within 500 metres of these highways will have to close or stop selling alcohol. The top court has only exempted the states of Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim, and places having populations of less than 20,000, PTI reported. These states can have shops selling liquor within 220 metres of highways.
The licences of several such pubs and bars is up for renewal, but the court maintained that they will not be renewed after March 31.
Besides the ban on sale of alcohol, the Supreme Court bench also ruled that no hoardings should be put up on highways advertising bars/pubs in their proximity.
This means that all pubs and bars in Gurugram’s DLF CyberHub and Delhi’s airport area Aerocity will need to close or stop selling alcohol. Around 34 such places in CyberHub are up for licence renewal. Pub owners at the CyberHub, however, have claimed they do not fall within 500 metres of the highways. Earlier, some of the pub owners had earlier met excise officials to point out that the court ruling would cause massive layoffs and financial losses.
Besides CyberHub, hundreds of smaller places across the country will be affected by the ruling too, and states like Goa will be hit quite hard. President All Goa Liquor Traders’ Association Dattaprasad Naik told The Times of India, “Liquor business will collapse in the state. The Supreme Court order is very harsh.”
Some liquor vendors’ associations and states like Kerala, Punjab and Telangana had also approached the court seeking amendments in their December judgment. Some states like Telangana and Maharashtra have more time to close their pubs since their excise year does not end on March 31.
The verdict last year had come after a plea had been filed saying that nearly 1.42 lakh people died in road accidents every year, and that drunken driving was a major cause of this. “Drunk driving is a potent cause of fatalities and injuries in road accidents. The Constitution preserves and protects right to life as an over-arching constitutional value,” the bench had said.