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SC clarifies on Highway Liquor Ban: Hotels & Bars within city limits can serve & sell alcohol

Thursday, August 24, 2017, 17:47 Hrs  [IST]
HBI Staff | Mumbai

The Hon’ble Supreme Court on August 23, 2017 clarified that the ban on sale of alcohol within 500 metres of the highway was aimed at sales along roads that “provide connectivity between cities, towns and villages” and not at roads that fall within city limits.

An order signed by Hon’ble Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar, Hon’ble Justice DY Chandrachud and Hon’ble Justice L Nageswara Rao unambiguously cited “the order does not prohibit licensed establishments within Municipal areas. This clarification shall govern other municipal areas as well. We have considered it appropriate to issue this clarification to set at rest any ambiguity and to obviate repeated recourse to IAs, before the Court.”

Terming it as a landmark order, Dilip Datwani, President, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) said, “This was a much needed clarification as millions of jobs and the very survival of the nation’s tourism industry was at stake. It has been HRAWI’s contention right from the start that the original order could not have been directed at hotels and liquor vends within city limits. We are thankful to the Bench and the Hon’ble Justices for unequivocally clarifying this. The order will bring relief to almost 70% of the affected hotels.”

“The SC’s order dated December 15, 2016 to ban liquor vends along the highways was to deal with the menace of drunk driving resulting in accidents. However what was construed as a blanket ban across all highways came with a heavy price for the industry and its large workforce that was employed in the cities. The Hon’ble SC’s clarification has both acknowledged the legitimacy of de-notification of State highways and removed any ambiguity regarding lifting the ban within city limits,” said Pradeep Shetty, Honorary Secretary & Chairman, Legal Matters sub-committee, HRAWI.

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