The Madras High Court on Tuesday told the Tamil Nadu government to refrain from opening any liquor shops run by the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Ltd (Tasmac) for the next three months, reported ANI. The court was hearing a petition filed by Opposition parties against a government circular, which they alleged was an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court order banning liquor shops near highways.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party and the legal wing of Pattali Makkal Katchi had moved the High Court on Monday against a circular issued by the Commissioner of Municipal Administration on April 21, reported The Hindu. According to the notice, all state highways are to be handed over to respective corporations and municipalities for easy maintenance. The Opposition parties, in their petition, said the government circular was a clear attempt by the administration to get around the apex court verdict, which has made it illegal for liquor shops to be within 500 metres of state or national highways.

Tamil Nadu is not the only state to denotify highways to save liquor shops and the revenue they generate. Rajasthan has denotified certain sections of state highways that pass through heavily populated towns. Maharashtra and Uttarakhand have also taken recourse to denotification of highways.

On March 31, the Supreme Court had ruled that liquor shops within 500 metres of national and state highways would have to shut down from April 1. The top court has only exempted the states of Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim and places with populations less than 20,000. These states can have shops selling liquor within 220 metres of highways.