A delegation of Kerala-based liquor shop owners approached the vacation bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking clarification of its highway ban, reported news agency PTI. The apex court had in March ordered liquor vends, including bars, pubs and restaurants, within 500 metres of national and state highways to shut down. The applicants told the bench that the ruling does not apply to the service of beer and wine parlours which serve products with alcohol levels below six and 12 per cent respectively.
They added that they had been granted FL-11 licences in different categories — which allows owners to sell beer and wine for consumption to the public in a separate room — by state excise department on March 31 for the period of one year. However, since the court’s ruling, they claimed they are being ‘threatened’ by officials not to operate their parlours. They added that they would suffer financial losses if they weren’t allowed to sell their remaining liquor stocks, which is worth lakhs of rupees.
The top court had passed the verdict earlier this year citing fatalities due to drunk driving. The ruling was enforced from April 1 this year. The hill states of Sikkim, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh were exempted from the ruling, given their low population. In Himachal Pradesh and local areas with a population of less then 20,000 people, the rule was amended to 220 metres from the highways.
The vacation bench headed by Justices R K Agrawal and Deepak Gupta said the plea would be heard in July.
(With inputs from PTI)