For the bars, restaurants and hotels along highways in Haryana, the party is on.
Places such as the Gurgaon’s popular eating district of CyberHub where alcohol is served will continue to be in business, the state government has said. But, liquor vends on highways will be shut down on April 1 in keeping with a Supreme Court order.
The decision comes after the country’s top legal officer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, told the Haryana government on Wednesday that the Supreme Court’s order banning sale of liquor within 500 meters of national and state highways across the country was only applicable to shops and vends and not to restaurants and bars.
“We will go by the attorney general’s clarification on the Supreme Court order which means there will be no restriction on restaurants and bars selling liquor,” a Haryana official said on Thursday.
Rohatgi’s advice will bring relief to other states as well. Southern state of Kerala had got a similar response from Rohatgi after it sought his views.
To reduce drink driving and road accidents that claim thousands of lives every year, the court said on December 15 licences of liquor shops close to the highways would not be renewed after March 31.
The IT hub of Gurgaon has several bars, hotels and restaurants close to the highways and the order created a panic among restaurants and hotel owners.
Many of them sent representations to the state government and also filed applications before the Supreme Court, seeking clarification on its order.
The Gurgaon’s excise department had identified 89 liquor vends and 143 pubs in the red zone.
Rohatgi’s advice differs from that of Haryana advocate general Baldev Raj Mahajan, who had told the state that all liquor shops along highways would be affected after which the Khattar government sought the AG’s views.
“I am yet to examine the attorney general’s opinion. But obviously his view matters as he is also representing the government in the Supreme Court,” said Mahajan.
More than 650 vends and 143 restaurants in Haryana would have been hit by the SC directive.