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Liquor ban: SC refuses to intervene as Chandigarh denotifies highways

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-07-2017 Priyanka Mittal

New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) indicated it was not willing to interfere in the reclassification of national and state highways in Chandigarh as district roads to get around its ban on sale of liquor along highways.

The court said that its order on the ban was aimed at curbing drunken driving at high speeds outside the city and would not have a bearing on denotification of highways which fell within the city. “We could have considered but the denotified highways are those which fall within the city where there is no fast moving traffic,” said chief justice J.S. Khehar.

The court was responding to a challenge by Arrive Safe Society of Chandigarh, a non-government organization (NGO) working on road safety on the re-classification of highways in Chandigarh as major district roads.

The reclassification by the Chandigarh administration, as in many other states, was done apparently to circumvent an earlier court order that banned liquor sale within 500 metres of state and national highways.

The NGO had approached the court in appeal against an order passed by the Punjab and Haryana high court on 16 March which refused to quash the notification. It contended that by denotifying state highways and renaming them major district roads, the Chandigarh administration had made a mockery of the Supreme Court order of 15 December 2016 setting out the distance criteria.

Calling the notification arbitrary, the plea noted that the notification does not state the reason or criteria for declassifying some roads from “state highways” to “major district roads” while letting some roads remain “state highways”.

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