KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the Excise Department to ensure no bars functioned along the Kannur-Vengalam-Kuttippuram national highway (NH) in violation of the condition set by the Supreme Court. It said the 13 bars which opened following a court order should be closed and their licences rescinded.
The court issued the order while considering a statement filed by PWD Principal Secretary saying the Excise Department had no confusion with regard to the status of the Kannur-Kuttippuram stretch and that it continued to be an NH. Terming the decision to grant licence to the 13 bars ‘distressing’, the court said the authorities should not be allowed to violate the condition in V K Balu case - which banned the sale of liquor outlets along state/national highways.
“PWD knows the stretch was included in the NH. Still, 13 shops were allowed to open. When the court had asked to consider the claim of the bar owners, the deputy commissioner concerned sent a letter to the PWD executive engineer seeking a clarification on the status of the stretch,” it said.
“The engineer replied the roads are not state highways, but did not choose to clarify whether they were NH,” the court said.
The court issued the order on the petitions filed by Congress leader V M Sudheeran and Koyilandy (Kozhikode) municipality councillor V P Ibrahim Kutty. The petitioners had submitted the roads were still in the schedule under Rule 2 of the National Highways Act, 1956.
In 2010, the Centre, under section 11 of the National Highway Authority of India Act, 1988, had entrusted the Kannur- Kuttippuram and Cherthala-Oachira-Thiruvananthapuram stretches to the National Highways Authority of India for developing the highway. It was later entrusted to the state government for maintenance and management. As of January 1, 2017, both the stretches were NHs entrusted to the state government.