Highway Liquor Ban: Kerala HC Directs Excise Department To Consider Permission To Bars Along Denotified Highway [Read Judgment]

Team SoOLEGAL 1 Jun 2017 2:00pm

Highway Liquor Ban: Kerala HC Directs Excise Department To Consider Permission To Bars Along Denotified Highway [Read Judgment]

The High Court of Kerala has urged the Excise Department to consider the demand of bar hotels situated along the Cherthala-Thiruvananthapuram and Kannur-Kuttipuram roads to continue operations, in view of notifications denotifying the roads as highways prior to the Supreme Court order on liquor outlets along highways.

“The Cherthala-Oachira-Thiruvananthapuram road between km 379.100 to km 551.900 being no longer a Highway, I am sure that the rigor of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in V.K. Balu (supra) would not be applicable to the said road. However, the other directions relating to distance from any other National/ State Highway and direct access from any other National/ State Highway would obviously be relevant,” Justice Devan Ramachandran observed, directing the authorities to consider the plea within two weeks.

The Court was hearing a Petition filed by bar hotel operators who had been restrained from operating their bars from vending liquor, despite having validly renewed FL-11 licences under the provisions of the Kerala Abkari Act for the year 2017-18.

The petitioner bars are situated along the Cherthala-Oachira-Thiruvananthapuram road, which ceased to be a National Highway in view of a notification issued in March, 2014.

Observing that in the light of the notification, the rigours of the SC judgment wouldn’t be applicable to the roads in question, the Court ruled, “In such circumstances, I order these writ petitions directing the Deputy Commissioner of Excise, having jurisdiction over the area in which the petitioners’ shops/ Bars are situated, to consider the claim of the petitioners to continue to vend liquor based on the renewed licences they are holding strictly in terms of the parameters set forth in V. K. Balu (supra) and in my earlier judgment extracted above as expeditiously but not later than two weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment.”

The Supreme Court had, in the case of State of Tamil Nadu Rep. By Its Secretary Home, Prohibition & Excise Dept & Ors v. K. Balu, banned the sale of liquor within 500 metres of State and National Highways, including at bars, hotels and restaurants that serve alcohol. The judgment had justified its stand through the alarming statistics on the occurrence of road accidents. The order was subsequently modified on March 31, to provide the following reliefs:

  1. In the case of areas comprised in local bodies with a population of 20000 people or less, the requirement of maintaining a distance of 500 metres from the outer edge of the highway or service lane, for the location of the liquor shop, shall stand reduced to 220 metres. This was because of the grievance that the entire local area may fall within the prohibited distance. The entire Himachal Pradesh would qualify for this relaxation;
  2. The existing licence shall continue until the term of the licence expires but in any event not later than 30 September 2017;
  3. Meghalaya and Sikkim, on account of their hilly and forest terrains, are exempted from the application of the 500 metre distance requirement.

You may read: SC Order on Highway Liquor Shops Faces Barrage of Criticism by LiveLaw Research Team

Read the Judgment here.

Source: LiveLaw

Tagged: High Court of Kerala   Highway Liquor Ban  
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