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Highway Liquor Ban: Haryana Bars And Restaurants In The Clear

In its new excise policy, the Haryana government announced that the Supreme Court's ban on highway liquor vends would only apply to liquor shops
Highway Liquor Ban: Haryana Bars And Restaurants In The Clear
Highlights
  • The SC ban on liquor vends will not cover bars and restaurants
  • This clarification was made in Haryana's new state excise policy
  • This means that places like CyberHub will not have to stop serving alcohol

New Delhi: After months of uncertainty, the Haryana Government formally announced on Sunday that the Supreme Court’s order to close highway liquor vends only applied to liquor shops and not to restaurants and bars. As the April 1 deadline to implement the order approached, many restaurants and bars that fell within the 500-meter radius from the state and national highways were nervously awaiting this clarification. The announcement was made by Haryana’s Minister for taxation and excise, Captain Abhimanyu, as a part of the state’s new excise policy for 2017-18.

This comes on the heels of the Attorney General of India, Mukul Rohatgi, telling the Kerala Government last week that the Supreme Court’s order was clear on the fact that it was only applicable to liquor shops and not to establishments serving alcohol. In fact, Captain Abhimanyu said,

Based on this counsel, the state government had decided that bars and pubs would continue to operate as before and that the Supreme Court’s order would not affect these establishments in any way.

On December 15, the Supreme Court, in response to a PIL, had ordered that licences for liquor vends located along and within a 500-meter radius from national and state highways were not to be renewed. Additionally, advertising for alcohol on highways was to be banned with immediate effect. The decision came as a reaction to the high number of fatalities – estimated at 1.42 lakh – reported on India’s roads each year and a significant number of these being linked to drink driving.

Also Read: How Dangerous Are India’s Roads? 

A great amount of confusion existed within certain groups when it came to interpreting the order, on whether this would be applicable to hotels, restaurants and bars or only to liquor shops.

This confusion loomed over places like Gurugram’s posh CyberHub and other hotels located along the Delhi-Jaipur Expressway.

“This news has come as a huge relief for us. If the ban did apply to the restaurants and bars, there would have been losses for everyone. Also, restaurants are the safest place for people to sit and drink. If people don’t get this space, they would simply sit in their cars and drink. That would again be a huge road safety problem,” says Arvind Kumar, General Manager, The Wine Company, one of the restaurants in CyberHub.

However, these bars will now have to shell out more in terms of licence fees. In Gurugram, this fees has been increased from ₹12.5 lakh to ₹15 lakh and in Faridabad, the amount has jumped from ₹7.5 lakh to ₹9 lakh.

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