law enforcement

Stores along denotified highways in cities can sell alcohol, says Supreme Court

NGO Arrive Safe Society of Chandigarh had accused the administration of mocking the apex court’s order.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay decisions by local governments to denotify national and state highways as district roads if the thoroughfares were within city limits. The apex court’s ruling was a response to a petition by non-governmental organisation Arrive Safe Society of Chandigarh, which challenged the local administrations’ initiatives to circumvent the ban on sale of alcohol within 500 metres of state and national highways.

Several other states had also resorted to reclassifying highway stretches to avoid coming under the purview of the ban. “We could have considered [staying the move], but the denotified highways are those which fall within the city where there is no fast moving traffic,” Mint quoted Chief Justice JS Khehar as saying. The court said the ban aimed at curbing people from driving under the influence of alcohol on high-speed highways.

The ruling is likely to benefit alcohol businesses in Bengaluru among other major cities that were affected by the ban, News18 reported.

The NGO had moved the apex court after the Punjab and Haryana court dismissed its petition against the administrations. The plea accused the Chandigarh administration of making a mockery of the Supreme Court’s December 15, 2016 order. The ban was imposed 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 bench had said. “The Constitution preserves and protects right to life as an over-arching constitutional value.”

The top court has only exempted the states of Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim and places with populations less than 20,000.

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