TAMIL NADU

Relocate highway liquor shops by March 31, says court

Drivers on national and state highways in Tamil Nadu are unlikely to be tempted to stop for a drink after March 31. The Madras High Court has directed the authorities concerned to relocate all liquor retail outlets on the highways to interior areas by March 31.

“The present scenario is that there has been a significant increase in accidents due to drunk driving by drivers on national highways. Further, Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act also prohibits drunk driving. Hence the respondents (authorities) cannot delay the process of relocating the liquor shops which are being run on national/State highways,” the court said.

The First Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice V.K. Agrawal and Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar, passed the order while disposing of a public interest litigation petition seeking a direction to the government to relocate the liquor outlets and the bars attached to them.

The petitioner, K. Balu, an advocate, submitted that the location of liquor shops on highways was contrary to a communication of the Centre dated December 1, 2011. The circular had been issued taking note of fatal road accidents which occurred every four minutes and one road accident every minute. Drunk driving had been attributed as one of the leading causes for such accidents.

The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) submitted that the liquor shops on national highways were not located on ‘poromboke’ land. However, action was being taken to shift the existing shops to the interior areas depending on the availability of suitable buildings. The counsel for TASMAC sought six months time to relocate the shops.

Disposing of the petition, the Bench said it was of the view that since the matter was pending before the court from August 31 last year, such a long time as prayed for could not be granted. Considering all the facts, the court directed the authorities to shift the shops at present located on highways to interior areas by March end.



There has been significant increase in accidents due to drunk driving by drivers: Bench

The counsel for TASMAC sought six months time to relocate the shops


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