The Delhi government’s excise department has formed a committee to look into the grievances of a few restaurants and bar owners whose shops have been shut after the Supreme Court’s order to ban sale of liquor along highways.
The bar owners claimed their outlets were beyond the 500 metre limit set by the Supreme Court.
Sources in the department said the committee was formed after a representation of hoteliers met the excise commissioner on Monday.
“A three-member committee led by an assistant commissioner has been formed to verify the claims. A few owners claimed they are out of the ambit of the 500 metre distance and their licences have been wrongly cancelled. The committee will review these claims and if found correct, it will be rectified,” an official said.
Shutters came down on around 50 restaurant and bars on the midnight of March 31 after the excise department knocked at their doors within hours of the apex court clarifying its order banning the sale of liquor within 500 metres of national and state highways.
Though the order was implemented, officials said confusion prevails among the stakeholders, including excise departments across the country, over the correct interpretation of the order.
“The order of the apex court banned the ‘sale’ of liquor. But the licence conditions for restaurants clearly mention that it is to “serve” liquor. The restaurant owners are raising this ground as well,” an official said.
Reports of the excise department in Punjab having stopped issuing one-day licences to serve liquor at marriage halls has left hall owners on the tenterhooks.
There are many marriage halls on national highways in the Capital, especially along NH-1 and NH-10. Excise department officials, however, said, such places are unlikely to come under the ambit of the Supreme Court order.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) said that the directions issued by the apex court cannot be read down so as to apply only to shops involving sale of liquor situated within 500 metres of national or state highways.
“The Indian Tourism & hospitality industry as a people intensive industry, respects, honours and commends any judgement which upholds the safety of human lives. As Indians first, we are grateful for a highly functioning legal and governance system which advocates our safety & security. As the nodal body representing the tourism industry in the country, FAITH is reviewing the way forward with key stakeholders,” said Nakul Anand, Chairman, Faith, said in a statement.