The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Thursday banned all liquor shops on National Highways from April, 2017. All the licenses of liquor shops in and around the National Highways in all the states would be stopped, the apex court said in its order.
The top court also directed all the signages showing presence of liquor shops to be removed on the highways. The move was directed when the court was hearing petitions challenging many high court verdicts that condemned the sale of liquor on highways.
The courts directed that the shops be placed at a distance from where they are neither noticeable nor reachable to the commuters. The court also criticized states for not implementing Centre’s recommendation to not give licences to the venders on the highways.
“Look at the number of licences you (Punjab) have given. Because the liquor lobby is so powerful, everyone is happy. The excise department is happy, the excise minister is happy and the state government is also happy that they are making money. If a person dies due to this, you give ₹ 1lakh or 1.5 lakh. That is it. You should take a stand which is helpful for the society,” the bench said earlier.
The bench expressed its discontent over alleged inaction by different states in removing liquor shops alongside roads. The court said that profits generation cannot be a “valid reason” for a state or a Union Territory to give licence for liquor shops.
The court also rapped the Centre for not doing anything concrete. “The Government of India is now saying that the liquor shops (on the national and state highways) should be removed. For the last 10 years, nothing has happened and that is why we have stepped in,” the bench said.