Supreme Court | Liquor sales banned on National & State highways
The Supreme Court of India has banned the sale of liquor on all the National and State highways to control alcohol related incidents on the road. Every year thousands of Indian citizens lose their lives in more than 150,000 recorded road incidents.
Directing the union and state governments to ban liquor sales on national and state highways, the three member bench, headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur quoted, “We would not like any vendors on national highways, state highways, advertisements or signage about availability of liquor shops. All sign boards should be removed. Roads should be absolutely free from any distraction or attractions. Visibility is the first temptation”.
The apex court has reportedly directed governments to either displace the existing liquor shops 500 meters away from highways or cancel the license of liquor shops. It is learnt that liquor shops not abiding by the new mandatory terms won’t have their licenses renewed after March 31, 2017.
Although the counsels of state government tried to challenge the court’s decision, the Chief Justice rebutted them bluntly.
The Punjab government’s counsel faced the court’s ire for contending the high amount of revenue generation by the Excise Department from liquor sales in Punjab. The court said to the counsel, “You’re acting like a mouthpiece for liquor lobbies by defending the policy. You want the excise minister to be happy, make the government happy… let 1.5 lakh people die but you must serve liquor”. Notably, the SAD led Punjab government had issued thousands of new licenses for liquor shops in its ten years of rule.
When the Jammu & Kashmir’s counsel argued that the people will face difficulties because of the state’s terrain in accessing the shops if they are put away from the highway, the supreme court’s bench said that you can start door to door delivery of liquor – mocking implying that if they couldn’t live without alcohol on such trips, perhaps such drastic measures should be taken.