oppn parties Liquor Ban Dilution: A Face Saving Exercise

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  • In reply to a question in Parliament, the government says it is empowered to lawfully intercept, monitor or decrpyt information stored in a computer resource in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of India
  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
  • After Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, Jio also indicates that tariffs will be raised from December
  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
Liquor Ban Dilution: A Face Saving Exercise

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Supreme Court has done well to dilute its earlier order putting a blanket ban on liquor shops and bars within 500 metres on highways by exempting such businesses that lie within municipal limits, provided the highway stretches passing through municipal limits are de-notified and cease to be highways, thereby losing the perks associated with being one.

The earlier blanket ban order was passed without the court weighing all related issues and failing to prescribe rules that left loopholes that unscrupulous businessmen exploited to beat the ban. For instance, the court was aware that large stretches of highways passed through municipal limits. These stretches were prime real estate and a large number of luxury hotels were located on them in almost all cities and towns in India. These hotels had made enormous investments and were largely dependent on liquor to drive their F&B sales, which comprised a good percentage of their overall sales. Their patrons were mostly local residents and in-house guests and not those who drove past. Hence, it was highly unfair to put a ban on sale and consumption of liquor in these hotels. The initial order should have exempted these stretches with the same proviso that is now been ordered.

Further, by saying "within 500 metres" but not strictly prescribing how the distance was to be measured, the court left a loophole that was exploited by imaginative bar-owners bent on not losing custom. They created a maze of walkways on their entrance that made people walk for over 500 metres before they reached the bar counter, although the eatery was located right on the highway. That also made a mockery of the ban order. The court should prescribe rules to prevent this for effective implementation of the order.

If the real reason for the order is to prevent drunk driving – and hence accidents – on highways, one feels that the court has taken a wrong stand. For those who want to drink, 500 metres is not much of a distance to quench their thirst for alcohol, more so when they have wheels at their command. Drunk driving can only be prevented by corruption-free policing and stricter implementation of the MV Act.