With the attorney general of India clarifying that the supreme court’s order on ban of sale of liquor within 500 metre of state highways applies only to liquor vends and shops, the city’s bars, clubs and hotels may escape the ban. However, the UT administration is considering ways to save its liquor vends, all of which face a shutdown from April 1.
The administration has received the report from the four-member committee set up to suggest a solution to prevent a situation akin to prohibition in the city.
The committee has suggested that the verdict wouldn’t apply if some of the state highways are converted into district roads.
If the highways become normal roads, the SC verdict will only affect the vends around the national highway. But the key question is whether the administration is authorised to classify state highways as district roads especially with Supreme Court being seized of the matter.
“We have received the report of the committee and are studying it,” says UT home secretary Anurag Agarwal who also heads the excise department. “We need to take a call on how to take the suggestions forward.”
On whether it’s within the administration’s purview to declassify state highways, he said, “We need to examine that.”
Disturbing, says petitioner
Meanwhile, the petitioner in the case, Harman Sidhu of NGO ArriveSAFE has written to the UT administrator VP Singh Badnore that the move of UT administration to denotify state highways as district roads is “disturbing” and is an “attempt to dodge the implications of the historic order.”
HT has reported on Sunday how each liquor shop in the city — whether in a five-star hotel, a restaurant or a vend — is staring at closure from April 1, when the December judgment of the Supreme Court on closure of liquor shops on state highways and national highways takes effect.
The reason. On record, all major roads in the city are state highways and fall within the ambit of the judgment. The road categorisation was done around 20 years so that the UT administration could maintain these roads, with the municipal corporation short of funds at the time.
Clarification by AG
The attorney general, Mukul Rohatgi’s advice that the order doesn’t apply on hotels and other bars has come in response to the Haryana government writing in for clarification. Official sources say that this should apply across the country then. Home secretary Anurag Agarwal said he hasn’t seen the advice as the administration never sought any clarification from the AG office.