Liquor ban due to fast highway traffic, not inside cities, says Supreme Court

The bench was hearing a plea by Arrive Safe Society, a Chandigarh-based NGO, which had approached the Supreme Court against a Punjab and Haryana High Court order dismissing its petition that challenged the denotification order.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:July 5, 2017 6:03 am
highway liquor ban, supreme court liquor ban, chandigarh highway, india news, indian express news CJI Khehar said, “Roads within the city are very different from those outside the city. That is a genuine classification.”

IN A relief to operators of liquor vends and bars in cities, the Supreme Court on Tuesday found nothing objectionable in the Chandigarh administration’s decision to denotify local and state highways as district roads. The Chandigarh move had widely been interpreted as a bid to circumvent the apex court’s order of December 2016 banning liquor vends and bars within 500m of highways to curb drunk driving. In March, the top court modified the distance to 220m in towns with a population of below 20,000.

Hearing a petition challenging the Union Territory’s move to reclassify roads, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar said, “We could have appreciated if (denotified) roads was in the nature of a highway where there is fast-moving traffic. All roads notified are in (the) city where there is no fast-moving traffic.”

CJI Khehar said, “Roads within the city are very different from those outside the city. That is a genuine classification.” The bench was hearing a plea by Arrive Safe Society, a Chandigarh-based NGO, which had approached the Supreme Court against a Punjab and Haryana High Court order dismissing its petition that challenged the denotification order.

The Supreme Court also clarified that the object of its order banning liquor sales on highways was to ensure that people are not under the influence of intoxicating substances while driving fast.

“Why court gave the order is because when you are in fast-moving traffic, you should not be under the influence of anything… the purpose was to ensure that people don’t stop in the way, suppose when they are driving from Delhi to Agra, have a drink and then drive,” said CJI Khehar.

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  1. D
    Diplomat
    Jul 5, 2017 at 10:31 am
    At first let me mention that I am not a lawyer and hence do not know if I am venturing into any contempt issue. It is clear that the liquor vending ban was to reduce if not remove the drunk drivings and accidents it causes. It results in deaths, injuries as well as destruction of properties. While the latest remarks by the court are from common sense, understandable and laudable, it reveals that the previous judgment was not thought through. May be governments and lawyers did not inform the courts about the problems in banning of liquor shops within 500m of highways. At the same time, we hope that such remark does not cause people to think that the law needs to be implemented in spirit and need not be implemented in letter. This will be bad idea and will cause arbitrariness in law order machinery. Now the ball is in the court of state and local governments to seek final letter of law from the courts and implement it accordingly.
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