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Supreme Court hears pleas seeking review of ban on liquor vends near highways

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-03-2017 Apurva Vishwanath

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard a batch of pleas seeking a review of the court’s order banning liquor vends within 500 meters of all state and national highways across the country from 31 March.

At least nine states and union territories have moved the court with various requests. Some states have sought to extend the deadline or decrease the distance to 100 meters and a few states have sought a recall of the order.

The states include Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Maharashtra. The union territory of Chandigarh is also a party.

A bench comprising chief justice J.S. Khehar, justices D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao will continue to hear the case on Thursday.

ALSO READ: Liquor trouble: States ask Centre to de-notify national highways to district roads

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, appearing on behalf of Telangana, said that the court cannot supplant a state’s excise policy through an order.

“The trade is not illegal and states depend on it. The trade is also well regulated by states as per their requirements and it is not correct to have a blanket rule for all states,” he said.

On 15 December last year, a bench comprising then chief justice T.S. Thakur, justices D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao had allowed liquor shops in proximity to highways to operate till 31 March, but ruled against renewal of their licences. The court’s decision came on a public interest litigation case seeking to curb road accidents on highways due to drunken driving.

Mint reported in March that several states are seeking to de-notify even existing national highways in an attempt to circumvent the court’s order, putting in jeopardy the central government’s grand plan to build an extensive network of national highways.

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