The Punjab Assembly on Friday amended the state Excise Act, 1914, allowing the sale of liquor at hotels, restaurants and clubs within 500 metres of highways in the state, PTI reported. This amendment bypasses the Supreme Court’s December 2016 order barring the sale of alcohol within 500 metres of state and national highways.

However, other liquor vendors within 500 metres of highways will have to abide by the apex court’s order. Such liquor shops will not be allowed to be directly visible nor accessible from highways.

On June 19, the Cabinet had given a go-ahead to the draft amendment Bill, 2017. The Bill states this amendment is to “secure the livelihood” of many people.

“These [the liquor shops] are a part of the hospitality and tourism industry which generates substantial employment in the state,” the Bill read. “Absence of liquor in hotels, restaurants, clubs etc has seriously affected their existence and even their partial closure may create substantial unemployment in the state.”

Legislators belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Aam Aadmi Party were not present in the Assembly when the Bill was passed as they had walked out earlier.

Alcohol won’t be served in Bengaluru’s MG Road soon

Pubs and restaurants in Bengaluru’s MG Road will have to stop serving alcohol next week as per the Supreme Court order, The News Minute reported. There are as many as 200 places that serve liquor on MG Road, which is identified as a national highway in government records.

The Karnataka Excise Department has refused to renew the licences of the outlets, pub owners said, adding that it will impact their business. “We cannot renew licences unless they relocate their outlets more than 500 metres from the national highway,” Rajendra Prasad, Additional Excise Commissioner, told The News Minute. “Since national highways have not yet been denotified, we have no other option.”

MG Road has not been denotified by the Karnataka government as a national highway despite appeals from various associations. “The government should have taken measures to denotify these stretches soon after the Supreme Court’s order. They wasted valuable time and are now pointing at the Centre,” Karnataka Wine Merchants Association president Honnagiri Gowda told The Times of India.