SC open to liquor sale on city highways
The Supreme Court prima facie observed that there may be nothing wrong in de-notifying particular stretches of highways running inside city limits as city roads and such de-classification does not violate its order that national and State highways across the country should be liquor-free zones.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud orally observed that the purpose of prohibition on the sale of liquor within a distance of 500m from the outer edge of national and State highways was to prevent drunken driving.
The observations were made during a preliminary hearing on a petition filed by NGO challenging the Chandigarh administration’s move to de-notify certain roads in a bid to “circumvent” the December 15 ban.
Rationale behind exempting highways within city limits:
- Traffic inside city limits is usually slow and heavy
- The goal of the liquor ban was to prevent drunken driving in fast-moving traffic. The pace of traffic with the city is very different from traffic outside city limits
- The purpose of the ban is to avoid drunken driving on highways that act as an inter-link between cities
- The observations made by the court are significant as the court had in March 2017 clarified that the ban was not restricted to just liquor shops alongside highways but also includes pubs and hotels
- The court had then remarked that exempting establishments, which include bar-attached hotels, wine and beer parlours dotting highways would amount to dilution of the objective of the judgment. To prevent drunk driving which is one of the major killers plaguing Indian road
- Drunken driving is a potent source of fatalities and injuries in road accidents and the constitution preserves and protects the right to life as an over-arching constitutional value