NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Chandigarh administration notification of denotifying some of the highways to allow sale of liquor from vends within 500 metres of the roads and said, “If the administration had the intention of regularising all the liquor vends which were shut after the order then it would have denotified all the roads, but it did not do that.”
The development could lead other states to denotify stretches of highways passing through the city to allow liquor vends to continue operating after they were forced to close down following the ban.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar also refused to grant any relief to private bars and hotels which were seeking clarity on the issue of ban on sale of liquor alongside state and national Highways holding that such requests were unprecedented and not maintainable.
The Bench also said that it intended to dismiss the petition filed by NGO against a Punjab and Haryana High Court order of allowing Chandigarh administration to denotify highways within city limits which led to allowing bars and hotels to re-open within city.
“We are clear on the judgement. As long as the highways remained highways, sale of liquor within 500 metres was banned. But now they have ceased to be highways. Our judgement was based on intelligible differentia that highways with high speed traffic should be liquor-free zones, but traffic is slow within city limits. It said law passed by the legislature or the executive can take away the basis of a judgement but cannot undo or de-legitimise a judgement,” the Bench said. The court also refrained to hear any petitions from private parties and has decided to hear the interlocutory applications filed by Kerala, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chandigarh on Wednesday.
The apex court had on July 4 said the idea behind its verdict banning the sale of liquor along the highways was that a driver should not be under the influence of liquor at places where there is high-speed traffic. It had in December last year had banned sale of liquor within 500 metres of state and national highways across the nation from April one this year.
The NGO, in its plea, has alleged that in a bid to circumvent the order, the Chandigarh administration denotified the state highways to allow the sale of liquor even after March 31. The High Court refused to quash the notification.