The Uttar Pradesh government has approached Supreme Court requesting it to uphold its policy that permits operation of a liquor shop at a distance of 50 meters from school, hospital, place of worship and public resort.
In an appeal before the bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan the state has challenged February 2010 Allahabad high court verdict that criticised the policy and held it “arbitrary” and “unreasonable.”
The HC also said the government’s decision to amend the UP Number and Location of Excise Shops Rules, 1968, and permit liquor shops at 50 meters distance violated a 2008 SC ruling. The rules lay down conditions for liquor shops including the distance at which they can operate.
In February 2008, the apex court had specifically held that the word “close proximity” in Rule 5 of the excise law would mean 100 meters or 300 feet and banned operation of liquor shops within the prescribed distance. It had also observed that the term “close proximity” was misused by the authorities that did not take proper care before granting license to liquor shops.
A month after the SC ruling, the UP government chose to amend the 1968 rules and substituted “close proximity” with the fixed distance of 50 meters. The Bishop Johnson School in Allahabad approached the HC after the local authorities failed to shut down a beer shop located across the road. The school accused the authorities of violating the SC order.
In its appeal, the state has claimed that the decision to specify the minimum distance of excise shops was after a detailed consideration.