oppn parties Liquor Ban Dilution: A Face Saving Exercise

News Snippets

  • Crude prices fall sharply as Saudi Arabia assures normal production in a few weeks. Prices fall by 5.4% to $65.30 per barrel
  • Sensex tumbles 700 points over fears that rising crude prices will deal a body blow to the tottering Indian economy
  • As Rajeev Kumar fails to appear before the CBI despite several notices, the agency forms a special team to locate and apprehend him
  • S Jaishankar says Pakistan is not a normal neighbour and its behaviour is a "set of aberrations"
  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says PoK in Indian territory and the country hopes to have physical jurisdiction over it one day
  • Barasat Sessions court near Kolkata rejects Rajeev Kumar anticipatory bail application citing lack of jurisdiction as the reason
  • PM Modi celebrates his birthday with Narmada aarti and later has lunch with his mother.
  • All 6 Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs merge with the Congress in Rajasthan
  • Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to meet PM Modi on Wednesday, state issues on the agenda
  • Pakistan to open Kartarpur corridor on Nov 9
  • Rajeev Kumar, ex-police commissioner of Kolkata and wanted for questioning in the Sarada scam does not appear before the CBI despite the state administration requesting him to do so
  • Supreme Court asks the Centre to restore normalcy in J&K but keeping national interest in mind
  • As Trump accepts the invitation to attend a programme in Houston with PM Modi, India rushes to settle trade issues with US
  • After drone attack on Aramco's Suadi Arabia facility, oil prices jump 19% in intra-day trading causing worries for India
  • Imran Khan raises nuclear war bogey again, says if Pakistan loses a conventional war, it might fight till the end with its nuclear arsenal
Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara write to the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute
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.