Supreme Court Begins Hearing Pleas Against Ban On Liquor Vends Along Highways

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Supreme Court Begins Hearing Pleas Against Ban On Liquor Vends Along Highways

Court began hearing pleas seeking a relook at its verdict banning liquor vends within 500m of highway

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court commenced hearing on a batch of pleas seeking a relook at its verdict banning liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways across the country from April 1, saying that the issue is "serious" and it cannot shut its eyes.

The court categorically said that the interim applications for modification of the December 15, 2016 order were not proper as no application before it has stated that which areas on national and state highways were prone to accident.

It said the verdict has specifically mentioned that drunken driving on such stretches have resulted in fatality. However, a bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar said that it was "very consciously thinking" about what to do in the matter and or this it needed to continue the hearing today as the "matter is serious and it cannot shut its eyes".

"We are very conciously thinking what we should do. We are keeping the hearing for tomorrow. Let us be very clear. What we understand in law, the IAs (interim applications) are not proper but the issue is serious, therefore we cannot be shutting our eyes," the bench, also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and LN Rao, said.

"We will not shut you (applicants) down also and we will hear the matter tomorrow. We may or may not have a relook at the issue. We are keeping our mind open. For forming our opinion, we need to hear the matter in detail," it said.

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During the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that two high courts - Madras, and Punjab and Haryana - had said that highways mean not only the national but also the state ones due to which liquor vends along highways across the country were on the verge of shutting down on March 31.

He said the state highways across the country "criss-cross" through small towns and almost every district of a state and "if you will take 500 metres as a universial barrier" it will create problems in various states. Mr Rohatgi said as per the verdict of December 15 last year, the licences of existing liquor vends which fall within 500 metres of the national and state highways will not be renewed after March 31.

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