The Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday a batch of petitions seeking a modification of its December 2016 order banning liquor vends within 500 metres of State and National Highways across the country.
A Bench, comprising Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and S.K. Kaul, assured on Tuesday a battery of lawyers led by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that it will ensure that the matters are heard on March 29, 2017.
“If Justice D.Y. Chandrachud is not available tomorrow, then I will constitute a separate Bench,” the Chief Justice said.
Mr. Rohatgi told the court that the apex court judgment ordering the closure of liquor vends alongside highways, will come into effect from April 1 and this leads to a situation where an urgent hearing is needed.
On March 28, States like Kerala, Punjab and Telangana approached the court seeking a modification of the order.
On March 23, the Tamil Nadu government also moved the court to extend the time for relocation of retail liquor shops along the highways till the expiry of their licence period i.e. up to November 28.
On January 18, the All Assam Indian Made Foreign Liquors Retailers’ Association approached the court seeking a modification of the judgment, saying it virtually banned liquor shops in the State as the definition of State highways in the local statute included all roads.
The court, in its December 15 last order, ordered a ban on all liquor shops along all highways and made it clear that licences of the existing shops will not be renewed after March 31.
It also directed that all signages indicating the presence of liquor vends will be prohibited along the highways.