Highway Liquor Ban

Owners of liquor shops in Maharashtra have approached the Supreme Court challenging the State Government’s decision to declare State Roads as Highways without following the procedure mandated under the Bombay Highways Act, 1955.

The petition is an appeal against the decision of the Bombay High Court, which had dismissed the challenge.

When the matter came up in the Supreme Court for hearing on Friday (18.08.2017) before a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar, the Court directed that the matter should be heard by the same Bench which had passed the order banning liquor shops within 500 meters of National and State Highways.

It is the Petitioner’s case that they are operating their liquor shops along roads which are neither National Highways nor State Highways. The Petitioners have submitted that the State Government has merely changed the name of the roads into State Highways without declaration in the Official Gazette which is mandatory as per Section 3 of the Bombay Highways Act, 1955. The Petitioner’s have averred that:

“The liquor shops of the Petitioners are neither operating on National Highway nor State highway.. Mere change of name of the road without any notification whatsoever would not give a State Road, status of State Highway. Section 3 of the Bombay Highways Act, 1955 is a mandatory section for declaring/converting any road into State Highway.”

The Petitioner goes on to state that when the case had come up before Bombay High Court, the State Government had, in fact, admitted that there exists no Notification by which the State Roads were declared as State Highways. They further say:

“The Hon’ble High Court erred in not taking any action against the Respondents, who in fact have admitted before the Hon’ble High Court that there exists no notification vide which the State Roads are converted/declared as State Highways, where the Petitioners are carrying out their businesses.”

On December 15, 2016, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao had ordered a ban on sale of alcohol within a distance of 500 meters from National and State Highways. The matter may now come up before the same Bench.

 

Sanchayeeta Das

Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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