On a day that the Supreme Court appeared to be reading down its December 2016 prohibition order on sale of liquor near highways to allow it within city limits, the Chandigarh Administration was in the Punjab and Haryana High Court justifying its decision its decision to measure the distance between liquor establishments and highways aerially.
The UT said the “peculiar character” of the city was the reason to not use motorable distance in the implementation of SC’s directions on liquor shops located near highways. “The Chandigarh road network is rectangular in shape with gridiron pattern that had been conceived by its original architects. Therefore, there are alternative approach roads from National/State highway and the motorable distance of a given spot from the national/state highway and the motorable distance of a given spot from the National/State highway varies with each alternative approach road,” a response filed by the UT in a civil writ petition reads.
Three city-based liquor shop owners had recently challenged the UT administration decision to cancel their licenses or deny their renewal after it was found the liquor shops were within 500 meters distance of highways. The petitioners had challenged the UT decision to use aerial distance instead of motorable distance to implement the ban of sale of liquor within 500 metres of National or State Highway as ordered by Supreme Court
The UT administration filed a response in one of the three petitions on Tuesday and said the manner of calculation by using the aerial distance is the most scientific and fair manner of calculation of distance as opposed to motorable distance. “It is now settled that the sale of liquor is not a right but a privilege conferred upon by the state. However, the exercise of the said privilege must be done within the framework of the law,” the reply reads.