The Supreme Court (SC) on 15 December 2016 ordered the State and the Union Governments to remove all liquor shops located 500 metres or less from national and state highways.
However, the Bench, headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur, ruled that the existing licence-holders could continue their business till 31 March 2017.
The ruling was based on recommendations by Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry governments.
- The Bench advised the State and the Union Governments to take into account both road safety and government revenue.
- It had allowed representatives of public interest litigants in these cases to attend the meeting between the Union and the State Governments.
- The states pleaded for exempting state highways from the ban on liquor shops. However, the Bench stated that “if it is valid for national highways, it is valid for state highways also. What is good for the Centre is good for the states as well. It is a good idea not to allure highway users into drinking and driving. If there is a reasonable method which the governments want to adopt, we have no difficulty in approving it. At the end of the day, it is for the good of society at large.”
- The top court also stated that closing down liquor shops on highways would not adversely affect the tax revenue to a great extent.