CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has permitted two PIL petitioners to challenge the State government’s move to reclassify the national and State highways under the Corporations and Municipalities to pave the way for reopening of about 3,300 retail vending shops of the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC).
The first bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar agreed to hear the PILs on Tuesday. The bench also wondered how particular stretches of national and State highways could be brought under the urban local bodies.
The Supreme Court had banned liquor sale and service both along and within 500 metres on either side of national and State highways, effective from April 1.
To circumvent the order, the Municipal Administration Commissioner traced a report from November 11, 2016, which recommended that the State bring stretches of national and State highways coming under urban local bodies such as corporations and municipalities under the respective local bodies.
Based on the report, the Municipal Administration department wrote to local bodies on April 21, asking them to urgently adopt a resolution reclassifying national and State highways within their limits to be brought under their ‘direct control’. Such resolutions shall be adopted and sent to the government by April 25, the circular said.
However, on Monday, senior counsel P Wilson, representing the DMK organising secretary and party MP RS Bharathi, mentioned the matter before the first bench, saying the circular was illegal since the State did not have elected local bodies at all. Without the existence of an elected council, how could those municipal bodies adopt resolutions that would reflect the will of the people, Wilson wondered.
Advocate K Balu, who is president of the Advocates Forum for Social Justice and whose PIL a couple of years ago led to the ultimate abolition of liquor sale and service along highways last month, also mentioned the matter and sought an urgent hearing on Monday afternoon. The bench agreed to hear it on Tuesday.