Liquor vends on National, State highways banned

The Supreme Court on Thursday banned States and Union Territories from granting licences for the sale of liquor along National and State highways across the country, noting that drunken driving was the main culprit behind a large number of road accidents in the country.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao said the licences of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after March 31, 2017. The judgment ordered that the prohibition on sale of liquor alongside highways would extend to stretches of such highways that fall within limits of municipal corporations, city towns and local authorities.

No signages

The court prohibited signages and advertising of availability of liquor on highways and ordered the existing ones to be removed forthwith from both national and State highways. It ordered that no shop for sale of liquor should be visible from the National and State highways. Neither should they be directly accessible from the highways nor should they be situated within a distance of 500 metres from the outer edge of the highways or service lanes.

The court ordered all the States and Union Territories to “strictly enforce the directions.” It gave the Chief Secretaries and the State police chiefs a month’s time to chalk out a plan for enforcement of the judgment. The judgment is a result of the deep concern the court had expressed recently on the 1.5 lakh fatalities annually in road accidents. It had blamed the Centre and the States for not doing enough as lives were lost on the roads.

'States backing liquor lobbies'

The Supreme Court, while banning liquor vends along the national and State highways, accused State governments of “speaking the language of liquor vendors.” It pointed out that nearly 1.5 lakh people die every year in accidents.

“The Government of India is now saying that the liquor shops (on the national and state highways) should be removed. For the last 10 years, nothing has happened and that is why we have stepped in,” the Bench had observed.

The court said revenue generation could not be a “valid reason” for a state or a Union Territory to give licence for liquor shops on highways.

“An analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour,” one of the petitions had contended.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2020 8:21:20 PM |

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