Dry-way Along the Highways

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Supreme Court imposes ban on sale of liquor along National and State Highways

The year 2016 brought with it commendable regulations and initiatives, aimed towards providing and ensuring promotion of public interest and safety.

The Supreme Court of India, in one of its landmark judgments titled “The State of Tamilnadu Rep. by its Secretary Home, Prohibition & Excise Dept. &Ors. vs. K. Balu&Anr.”, passed in December,2016, imposed a ban on sale of liquor in and around the National and State Highways. Vide the said judgment, all existing liquor licenses shall cease to exist w.e.f. 01st April, 2017 and no new liquor licenses will be grantedin areas which fall within the ambit of “those stretches of the national or state highways which pass through the limits of any municipality corporation, city, town or local authority”.

Concerned with the safety of citizens and in order to avoid accidents being caused by consumption of alcohol, the apex Court even issued directions for introducing and implementing essentialmeasures to ensure that “liquor vends are not visible or directly accessible from the national and state highways, within a stipulated distance of 500 metres from the outer edge of the highway, or from a service lane along the highway”.

In the light of the evidence and statistical data produced before the court, it was observed that amongst other reasons, accidents occurring on highways and expressways,were also primarily attributable to consumption of liquor and other intoxicating substances.

It was further observed that drivers undertaking long journeys and otherwise, had easy access to liquor, which in a way leads to unnecessary temptation. Even though one could purchase liquor before the journey commences, however, such accessibility should not be available in the due course of the journey. This preventive action was taken in consideration of the fact that accidents being caused due to unforeseen circumstances cannot be controlled, however, factors like consumption of liquor can always be regulated, if not completely eliminated. Keeping utmost regard for security of citizens, the apex Court imposed precautionary measures in order to increase safety of citizens on roadways.

This measure was undertaken in light of the rights and duties enshrined in our Constitution and comes as a relief for certain public authorities as episodes of driving under the influence will substantially reduce.

Even though this restrictive measure will have an impact on the livelihood of all those who are running restaurant with liquor licenses, however, it is likely to save thousands of lives, which are at risk while driving on such highways and expressways.

 

Trishla Harish
Senior Associate
The Indian Lawyer

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