The restrictions on the sale of alcohol within the city are likely to go away soon with the state government on Thursday promising to bring in an ordinance in the next few days to this effect, following the latest order of the Supreme Court in this regard. Excise Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule told The Indian Express that the state government was studying the Supreme Court order and would take a decision accordingly.
In a major relief to the hospitality sector, the apex court on Wednesday modified its earlier order banning the sale of alcohol within 500 metres of a highway. The court said that the ban would not apply to the sale within municipal limits of a city.
“The purpose of the direction contained in the order (of the Supreme Court) dated 15 December, 2016 is to deal with the sale of liquor along and in proximity of highways properly understood which provide connectivity between cities, towns and villages. The order does not prohibit licensed establishments within municipal areas,” Wednesday’s SC order read.
For Pune, the December order had meant end of business for a number of hospitality establishments as they fell within the 500 meters definition. The matter got complicated as arterial roads like JM Road, FC Road and Ahmednagar Road were still designated as state highways despite being maintained by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). In Pune district, of the nearly 2,500 licensed establishment serving alcohol, about 1,600 had to stop serving liquor. There were reports of smaller restaurants closing down for want of business.
On Thursday, armed with the copy of the latest Supreme Court order, a group of hoteliers, led by Ganesh Shetty, president of the Pune Hoteliers’ Association, approached the office of Mohan Varde, superintendent of excise, Pune, asking for an immediate lifting of the ban. But the decision is likely to take some time.
Bawankule said that the state government had received the copy of the order on Wednesday. “We shall consult the law and judiciary department for the correct interpretation of the order and an ordinance will be issued accordingly,” he said. Sources close to the minister said in all probability the ban will be lifted within the next seven days.