The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday came down heavily on the Punjab government for allowing liquor vends on national highways in violation of the high court orders.
During the resumed hearing on the matter, the division bench of justice AK Mittal and justice Ramendra Jain asked the state government whether it did not have any other means of collecting revenue.
Petitioner’s counsel Ravi Kamal Gupta supplied photographs of the 32 liquor vends, mainly on three national highways in the state. Along with the photographs, the petitioner had shown locations through the global positioning system. The national highways are Jalandhar-Barnala, Ambala-Zirakpur and Bathinda-Jalalabad.
During the hearing, the high court bench asked as to how the petitioner was able to supply the list with photographs and the state machinery did not have a clue to it. “Is the state helpless? Who is holding you back from abiding by the high court orders?,” the high court division bench asked, further hinting that it could appoint court commissioners to check compliance of its orders.
The matter will come up for hearing on November 16, when the state government can submit a reply on the allegations levelled by the petitioner.
The high court bench was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by NGO Arrive Safe, wherein the excise policy of Punjab was challenged alleging violation of the high court orders, in March. Another petition filed by the NGO alleging the contempt of court has also been clubbed with the matter.
In 2014, the high court had ordered that no liquor vend should be located along the national highways. “They should not be accessible or visible from national highways or service lanes running along such highways,” the high court had said, passing a similar order on state highways.
However, the high court order on removing liquor vends on state highways was stayed by the Supreme Court.