Several states in the country have been aggrieved by the Supreme Court's decision to ban the sale of liquor around national highways.
Most states have now resorted to finding legal means of circumventing the ban.
States attempt to circumvent highway liquor ban
How states countered the SC's justification
States indicated that based on statistics, drunken driving accounted for a mere 4-5% of road accidents and deaths.
They added that the SC's decision affects state revenues for the period of time involved in relocation. States added that closure of such outlets also added to unemployment.
Most importantly, states like Goa, face a threat to tourist footfall too, affecting state revenues on two fronts.
Majorly affected states
Maharashtra claims that the ban would cost Rs. 7000 crore in revenues. The state is rushing to denotify highways in Mumbai, Pune and other large cities.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh shut bars and pubs around highways, but will keep liquor shops open until Sep 30, June 30 respectively.
Goa is the worst affected state, and has largely refused to comply with the ban.
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Denotifying Highways: A way out?
Denotification implies downgrading the nomenclature of the road to avoid legal trouble.
Denotifying state highways is a state subject, while denotifying national highways is under the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
Denotification of state highways could lead to a drop in financing for maintenance of the roads. Denotifying national highways could have the same effect. NHs will only be downgraded to SHs.
Amending definition of liquor
Another legal route being explored is amending laws to change what constitutes liquor.
In Kerala, the state is mulling amending the Abkari Act, which governs rules over alcohol consumption in the state. Kerala is considering removing beer and wine from the definition of liquor.
Similar legal amendments may be considered by states to allow the sale of mild liquor, thereby maintaining revenue streams.
13 Apr 2017
Liquor ban: MMRDA seeks denotification of Western, Eastern Express highways
To protect 500 bars and wine shops on the Western Express and Eastern Express Highways from the recent SC liquor ban, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority has reportedly sought to take them over from the state PWD; if approved, they will no longer be considered highways.
Maharashtra has taken a hit of about Rs. 7,000cr after 6,000 establishments were affected by the order.
04 Jul 2017
Highways within cities exempt from liquor ban: SC clarifies
In a major relief to businesses, the SC said that bars on city roads will be exempt from the highway liquor ban.
So if a highway goes through a city, bars on that stretch wouldn't have to be shut down.
The court said there's "nothing wrong in denotifying roads in cities".