SC exempts 9 Uttarakhand districts from highway liquor ban
State excise minister Prakash Pant said the government moved the apex court seeking parity with states Sikkim and Meghalaya which were granted relief on March 31 on the criteria that they had less than 20,000 population.dehradun Updated: Aug 04, 2017 20:14 IST
Nine Uttarakhand districts have been exempted from implementing the Supreme Court’s highway liquor ban order which prohibits sale of alcohol 500m from national highways and 220m from state highways.
On Friday, a three-judge bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar and justices Nageshwar Rao and YV Chandrachud, relaxed the norms for the nine hill districts of the state, besides three tehsils of Dehradun and four tehsils of Nainital district.
State excise minister Prakash Pant said the government moved the apex court seeking parity with states Sikkim and Meghalaya which were granted relief on March 31 on the criteria that they had less than 20,000 population. The relief was also extended to Himachal Pradesh partially.
Uttarakhand government, which earns Rs 2,000 crore annually from liquor trade, pleaded that many of its towns have very less population, and therefore, should be given similar relief.
“The court order will be helpful for the department in a way that we will have an option of opening shops in the convenient place,” Pant told HT.
Owing to the December 15, 2016, Supreme Court highway liquor ban, the excise department was forced to move shops to crowded places inside cities, triggering protests across the state, as people opposed liquor shops near residential areas.
Last month, a resident of Haridwar tried to commit suicide in front of the local BJP legislator as he was annoyed with a liquor shop opened near his home.
In a bid to ‘bypass’ the SC ban, the Trivendra Singh Rawat cabinet gave nod for rebranding 64 state highways as district roads in April this year. The move was aimed at benefiting some 150-odd liquor shops.