The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition challenging the Chandigarh administration’s decision to denotify state highways in the city to allow functioning of bars and liquor vends within city limits.
“There is a clear classification between city roads and non-city roads (in the Chandigarh administration’s notification)… If the purpose was to reopen all the licensed vends, the notification would have extended to all those areas where the vends are located,” a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar pointed out while dismissing the petition filed by Chandigarh-based NGO Arrive Safe Society.
The petitioner alleged that the declassification of highways was meant to circumvent the SC order of December 15, 2016 banning liquor outlets within 500 metres of highways. CJI Khehar told the petitioner counsel that the “good thing is you are before the same bench which gave the (original) order. We know what was is in our minds when we passed the order.”
The decision of the top court comes as good news for many states that have declassified their highways to escape the ban which they claim has led to financial losses.
Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the purpose of the SC order “was not to prohibit drinking, but drunken driving”. “These are internal city roads where facility to serve liquor exists,” he said.
Mehta said the roads in question were local roads till 2005 when they were reclassified as highways for the purpose of getting grants and that there was nothing wrong in reclassifying them again.