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Bengaluru liquor vends get closure notices ahead of 1 July liquor ban deadline

LiveMint logoLiveMint 28-06-2017 Priyanka Mittal

New Delhi: Notices calling for closing of hundreds of liquor vends in Bengaluru and across the state of Karnataka have been issued for them to meet the 1 July deadline fixed by the Supreme Court order banning sale of liquor within 500 metres of highways.

With no relief from the Centre on denotifying highway stretches in the state, shutters are likely to come down on liquor establishments on MG Road, Brigade Road, Church Street, Indiranagar and areas around Hosur Road, according to a report by Times of India.

The Karnataka government has also sought to convince the Centre to denotify the six national highway stretches running through the city of Bengaluru, failing which the state is likely to knock at the apex court’s door for relief.

Karnataka is not the only state grappling with the scope of the court order. While few states have opted for legal recourse and approached the court for a clarification on implementation of the order, others are finding solutions around the 15 December ruling prohibiting liquor sale 500 metres from the highway.

While some hotels and restaurants in Gurgaon shifted their entrance to escape the binding of the 500 metres area set under the order, others were left to bear the brunt of the ban.

Most recently, on 23 June, the Punjab assembly amended the state’s excise Act, exempting restaurants, hotels and clubs from the purview of the ban order.

In April, Rajasthan denotified certain sections of state highways passing through towns.

Kerala also rolled back liquor prohibition and continues to serve alcohol at restaurants and hotels along the highways.

Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar has already signalled his government’s intention to amend its excise Act.

The Chhattisgarh government has constituted a committee to study the excise policy of other states where liquor is banned or is being sold under supervision.

On 15 December 2016, the Supreme court ruled that no liquor stores could operate within a distance of 500 metres of state and national highways in the country.

It was done to prevent road accidents due to drunken driving along these roads. It also ordered removal of any kind of advertisement of liquor stores and held that fresh licences would be granted after such stores relocate and comply with the court directive.

The prohibitory ruling came after a plea filed by Tamil Nadu challenging the constitutional validity of a circular issued by the Central government on 22 April asking state governments to shut liquor shops along highways.

Following the order, several states approached the court seeking clarification on the ambit of the order. In one such hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that the ban order on liquor vends along national and state highways would not apply to pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants that serve alcohol.

Premium hotels along highways suffered a sharp drop in business after the order prohibiting the sale of alcohol at these properties, with some reporting losses up to 60%, Mint reported in April.

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