Punjab bypasses SC Order; Hotels can serve alcohol near highways

Elias Hubbard
June 24, 2017

This amendment bypasses the Supreme Court's December 2016 order barring the sale of alcohol within 500 metres of state and national highways.

Bill, which was moved by parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra, was passed by the assembly on the concluding day of its budget session.

"The court in its initial order stated that no liquor can be sold within 500 meters of highways or be carried from liquor vends".

However, other liquor vendors within 500 metres of highways will have to abide by the apex court's order.

According to the amendment, the "sale of liquor" means the "transfer of liquor for consideration by a liquor vend for consumption by the purchaser at a place other than the premises of liquor vend". "The judicial pronouncement is aimed at checking drunken driving and the resultant losses". Even their partial closure may create substantial unemployment in the state.

"These [the liquor shops] are a part of the hospitality and tourism industry which generates substantial employment in the state", the Bill read.

Hotels, restaurants and clubs near highways in Punjab will now be able to serve alcohol within 500 metres of highways. Clause 19-a of the amendment defines supply of liquor as, "Provision of liquor for consideration at clubs, restaurants, hotels and other places on the basis of licence that is issued on the condition that such liquor shall be consumed within the premises of such hotel, club, restaurant or notified place". Also, liquor vends shall neither be directly visible nor accessible from highways. Restrictions were also lifted off from marriage palaces and banquet halls situated along highways to serve liquor. It is possible to shift liquor vends but not hotels and clubs.

Former Additional Solicitor General of India Mohan Jain, speaking with The Pioneer, said, "The intention behind the SC order was that people should not drink and drive on the highways resulting in accidents. However, there are a large number of hotels, restaurants, clubs and other enclosed notified places where liquor is sold for consumption", it adds.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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