Exemption to liquor vends on highways in municipalities apply to entire country: Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said its order exempting from ban the liquor shops within 500 metres of state and national highways running through municipal areas would be applicable across the country.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said it would pass a classificatory order on the plea of Tamil Nadu government, which was asked the Madras High Court to approach the top court for clarification on the issue.

The apex court, which had banned the sale of liquor within 500 meters of highways across the country, had on July 11 this year, relaxed the scope of its verdict and allowed liquor shops alongside highways in municipal areas on a petition filed with regard to Union Territory of Chandigarh.

The Madras High Court, taking note of the Tamil Nadu government’s recent decision to allow liquor shops on highways in municipal areas, said the apex court’s relaxation might be confined to Chandigarh alone and asked the state government to seek clarification from the top court.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, said the July 11 order was clear. However, a clarification was needed.

“The High Court says municipal areas in the Supreme Court order means only areas in Punjab and not in Chennai. The Chief Justice Bench of the High Court wants a clarification whether the exemption applies only to Chandigarh,” Rohatgi said.

“Well, why should the High Court think that? If our order applies for municipal areas in Chandigarh, it will apply equally for municipal areas across the country,” the bench said and posted the matter after two weeks for hearing and passing a requisite classificatory order.

The apex court had earlier clarified that its order banning sale of liquor within a distance of 500 metres along national and state highways would not extend to municipal areas.

The top court, on December 15, 2016, had banned sale of liquor within 500 metres of state and national highways across the country.

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