The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday took a serious note of the Punjab and Haryana governments not complying with the court directions for removal of liquor vends by the side of highways violating the National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI’s) rules and becoming one of the major reasons for accidents on highways.
The division bench comprising of chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Augustine George Masih said, “Before we initiate contempt proceedings, we would like to have the benefit of response of the two states” within three weeks.
The court also observed that as per the report of the petitioner's Chandigarh based organisation, Arrive Safe Society, liquor vends were still existing violating rules. “We make it clear that all suggestions made by NHAI shall be implemented by the two states,” the court said.
However, in the status report submitted by the Haryana government it was stated that all advertisements placed on or near the liquor vends along the highways and the enchroachments made by liquor vends had been removed across the state. It was submitted that the liquor vends had been forced to locate themselves only at a minimum 30 metres distance from the national highway outer limit. Sign boards of the liquor vends should not exceed the size of 2 X 2 feet. It was also submitted that access of the liquor vends had been disconnected by the NHAI by digging a trench wherever feasible.
Punjab government informed the court that after a survey it was found that a total of 1,255 liquor vends were existing by the side of highways in the state and all advertisements attracting attention of consumers to liquor vends had been removed.
But both the governments remained silent on removal of liquor vends by the side of highways as per court directions. NHAI informed the court that both states had formed committees to remove the liquor vends but there are still some at places in close proximity or directly accessible from highways. NHAI submitted that such vends should be closed as it would go a long way in reducing the occurence of accidents.
The case would now come up for hearing on December 17.