Supreme Court’s conditional nod to open toddy shops along National Highways

Earlier, the court had clarified that the state government could decide if an area was a municipal area and whether liquor shop owners should approach the state government for sanction.

Published: 14th March 2018 01:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2018 04:30 AM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave permission to reopen toddy shops along national highways under stringent conditions and asked the government to decide on it further.The order was passed by a Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra on a petition filed by toddy shop owners and employees in Kerala.

“The government can decide which shops should be opened,” Justice D Y Chandrachud said.The Supreme Court had last year given relaxation to liquor vends, including toddy shops, with regard to its ban on shops within 500 m of state and national highways. While giving relaxation, the Supreme Court had said liquor vends in municipal areas of panchayats could be given exemption from the ban.

The petitioners cited section 3 of the Kerala Abkari Act 1902, wherein toddy is defined differently from other forms of liquor.

Earlier, the court had clarified that the state government could decide if an area was a municipal area and whether liquor shop owners should approach the state government for sanction.

The petitioners further pointed out that the state government had in 2003 exempted toddy while imposing a dry day by inserting a proviso to Rule 7(11) (vii) of the Kerala Abkari Shops Disposal Rules, 2002.

It was also stated in the petition that toddy had been defined separately as a fermented or unfermented juice drawn from a coconut, palmyra, date, or any other kind of palm tree which showed the difference between toddy and other forms of liquor.

Last year, in December, the court had ordered closure of liquor shops operating within 500 metres of state and national highways in the entire country.

As per the Supreme Court order, all the states were to cease and desist from issuing licences for such shops after March 31.The verdict had come on a PIL alleging that nearly 1.42 lakh people died per year in road mishaps and that the drunken driving is a major contributor.   

It had also directed that all signages indicating the presence of liquor vends will be prohibited along national and state highways.

Separate for other liquor

The petitioners cited section 3 of the Kerala Abkari Act 1902, wherein toddy is defined differently from other forms of liquor. It was stated in the petition that toddy had been defined separately as a fermented or unfermented juice drawn from a coconut, palmyra, date, or any other kind of palm tree which showed the difference between toddy and other forms of liquor.

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