NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday assured that a batch of petitions seeking modification of its December 2016 order banning liquor vends within 500 metres of State and National highways will be heard on Wednesday.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and S K Kaul assured lawyers led by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that it will ensure that the matter is heard on Wednesday.
“We kept on waiting till 4 pm yesterday in the hope that the Bench will hear our pleas but to our surprise the Bench did not assemble,” Rohtagi told the CJI.
“If Justice D Y Chandrachud is not available tomorrow, then I will constitute a separate Bench,” the CJI said, adding that Justice Chandrachud had gone to Mumbai to attend the last rites of senior advocate T R Andhyarujina, who died early on Tuesday.
Rohatgi told the court that ordering closure of liquor vends along highways will come into effect from April 1 and this leads to a situation where an urgent hearing is needed.
States like Kerala, Punjab and Telangana have approached the apex court seeking modification of its order. The Kerala government had sought the Attorney General’s opinion on the ruling and approached the court citing a huge loss of revenue to it. The A-G, in his opinion, said the order banning liquor vends on State and National Highways does not apply to bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
Earlier in March, the Tamil Nadu government too had moved the court seeking extension of time for relocation of retail liquor shops along the highways till the expiry of their licence period.
The All Assam Indian Made Foreign Liquors Retailers’ Association had also approached the court seeking modification of the judgment, saying it virtually banned liquor shops in the State as the definition of State Highways in the local statute included all roads.