Relief For Bars? Supreme Court Highway Liquor Ban Only Applicable To Shops, Says Attorney General
- The Attorney General said that the ban extended only to liquor shops
- This could end the uncertainty about the future of bars, pubs & resaurants
- The wait for all excise departments to clarify their policy continues
New Delhi: The Attorney General of India, Mukul Rohatgi, has clarified that the Supreme Court’s order banning liquor vends along the highways will only be applicable to liquor shops. This could spell good news for the owners of pubs, bars and restaurants who have been scurrying to get clarifications from the excise departments in their respective states on whether their liquor licences would be renewed or not. On December 15 last year, the Supreme Court had issued an order that called for the closure of liquor vends located on and within a 500-meter radius from national and state highways. The order is to come into effect from April 1 this year.
Speaking to NDTV, Mr Rohatgi said, “The Supreme Court’s order specifically applies to liquor shops and not to restaurants serving alcohol.”
He further added that this would be applicable to all states in the country as the order was quite clear and did not extend to establishments serving alcohol. Mr Rohatgi had initially expressed this view to the Kerala government which had sought his opinion on Thursday.
This view has already been accepted and included in the Haryana Excise Department’s policy. Under this, the ban only extends to liquor shops which fall within the 500 meter ‘red zone’ and not to bars, restaurants and hotels along the highway, said Haryana’s Finance, Revenue, Excise & Taxation, Captain Abhimanyu.
However, on the ground, the confusion seems to continue.
“We are still waiting for the Excise Department to get back to us. They have asked us to fill out forms to renew our liquor licences. Till these are renewed, we really can’t say what will happen,” says Nitin Kumar the general manager of Circus, a restaurant in Gurugram’s CyberHub.
CyberHub, a complex of restaurants and pubs, has been in the news for what the Supreme Court’s order could mean for its future as a favoured destination for party-goers.
Taking note of the contribution of drink driving to India’s figure of 1.42 lakh road deaths, the Supreme Court, in response to a PIL filed by ArriveSafe, had ordered a ban on liquor vends located within a 500 meter radius from state and national highways, asking for their licences to not be renewed from April 1. It had also banned the advertising of alcohol on highways.