Reserving its verdict on December 7 on a plea seeking to alter excise laws to see that liquor is not sold alongside highways, the Supreme Court (SC) on December 15 banned all liquor vends along national and state highways.
The SC’s directive was on a PIL filed by NGO Arrive Safe. According to the NGO, 1.42 lakh people were killed in road accidents, a majority of which were caused by drunk driving. The NGO said easy availability of liquor along highways was the main reason for the road accidents.
Not only this, the existing liquor shops will cease to exist from April 1 and no new licences would be given henceforth. The licenses of the existing liquor shops will not be renewed from March 31, 2017, observed the SC.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, directed the central and state governments not to issue/renew liquor licenses from March 31, 2017.
The court added that no liquor shop should be allowed within a radius of 500 metre from the national/state highway. It also added all signages, showing the way to the liquor shops or indicating their presence, should be removed immediately.
Also, all state chief secretaries and DGPs have been told to chalk out an action along with civic and excise authorities to make sure all orders are effectively implemented.
Reminding the state of its constitutional obligations, the SC criticised the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near the highways, if they are ‘elevated’ ones and the shops were under or near it.
The SC laid emphasis on road safety and the ills of drunken driving, while issuing orders on a bunch of cases from different HCs over grant of licenses for liquor shops along national/state highways.