HC orders Tamil Nadu govt not to open liquor outlets near highways for 3 months
The interim orders stalls a government move to circumvent a Supreme Court orderindia Updated: Apr 25, 2017 19:59 IST
The Madras high court on Tuesday asked Tamil Nadu government not to open any state-run retail liquor vending shops near highways for the next three months, stalling a government move to circumvent a Supreme Court order.
The court issued the interim order on a petition filed by the opposition DMK and another political party amid growing protests across the state against Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) relocating its retail outlets closer to residential areas.
Taking up the case, a two-member bench comprising chief justice Indira Banerjee and justice M Sundar directed the government to give an undertaking that it would not open any liquor shop along highways. Failing which, she said, the court would come out with a specific order.
The interim order was issued after the two sides presented their arguments. The case was posted for further hearing on July 12.
The top court in December last year ordered all establishments selling liquor within 500 metres of national and state highways across India to relocate.
In a bid to circumvent the order, the state government started denotifying the state highways by handing them over to respective municipalities.
The DMK and Pattali Makkal Katchi had moved the petition on Monday seeking urgent directive to prevent the government from opening the TASMAC-owned liquor shops.
Opposing a recent circular issued by the commissioner for municipal administration asking municipalities across the state to take over state and national highways, senior DMK counsel P Wilson said, “The state has no jurisdiction or power to take over national highways.”
“The municipalities also do not have the power to take over state highways,” Wilson submitted to the court.
Besides, the government order circulated through the commissioner was aimed at circumventing the SC order on liquor vends on national and state highways, the lawyer said.
Tuesday’s interim order is applicable only to liquor outlets the government proposed to set up along the highways circumventing the apex court’s order till the next three months, when the court will hear the case again.
The DMK that has promised total prohibition in its last election manifesto, has taken a strong stand against the Tasmac shops and has been supporting anti-liquor outlets protests, spearheaded mainly by womenfolk across the state.
In some places, villagers have destroyed Tasmac shops that were shifting into residential areas after the SC order.
DMK working president MK Stalin, launching a scathing attack on the government, said it was more interested in providing liquor to the people than water for drinking and irrigation purposes.
“The government is keen on reopening closed liquor shops, but it did not seem to share the same enthusiasm when it comes to providing safe drinking water to the masses,” Stalin alleged at a public rally at Tiruchirapalli on Monday.