SC order to impact liquor business

HYDERABAD: The Telangana Government expects a huge impact on the business of retail outlets selling Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and bars along highways in the wake of Supreme Court banning them on Thursday.

There are some 160 shops and 30 bars on the highways, mostly when they pass through cities, towns and nagar panchayats of the State. “They should not be called highways, if the Apex court order was to be implemented, as they run through the heart of cities and towns and a lot of colonies, commercial establishments and layouts have come up. The shops are located in their midst,” said Excise Commissioner R.V. Chandravadan.

He felt the portion of highways may have to be de-notified to enable the shops to function. It is a double setback to some of them after demonetisation.

State directives

The struggle by Telangana Government against liquor shops and bars on highways originated shortly after the State was formed and the Supreme Court constituted a committee on road safety, headed by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, around the same time.

At a review meeting in November last year, the committee directed the State government officials to remove all liquor shops within 100 metres and send compliance report by December 31.

In compliance with the direction, the government issued notices to licensees but they got a stay from the High Court, Mr. Chandravadan said.

He added that the government will take up an impact study after perusing the ban order of the Supreme Court. “We will see in what cases exemptions were given and whether the order imposed restrictions up to 100 metres or 50 metres”.

Distance matters

The 50 metre restriction assumed significance because the government has already banned the shops, bars and in-house establishments of clubs, tourism department and armed forces within this distance from State and national highways, except that part of the highways passing through municipal corporations, municipalities and nagar panchayats. The ban was imposed invoking provisions of Andhra Pradesh Excise Rules.

If the gap was to be increased from 50 metres to 100 metres as per the recommendations of the empowered committee of the Supreme Court, amendments were required for the rules by taking a re-look at the liquor policy. However, the committee insisted that the government need not wait for the new Excise Policy. It led to aggrieved shopkeepers filing writs in High Court.

Meanwhile, the government also consulted the Advocate General as ban on sale of liquor on highways was a State policy.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2020 11:58:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/SC-order-to-impact-liquor-business/article16842121.ece

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