New Delhi, March 19, 2017: The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday assured states and other petitioners that it would hear their plea seeking modification of its December 2016 order banning liquor vends within 500 meters of State and National Highways today.
The assurance came from the bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar, S K Kaul, D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that over 100 lawyers kept waiting on Monday for an hour with the hope that the bench would assemble to hear their pleas.
“We kept on waiting till 4 pm yesterday in the hope that the Bench will hear our pleas but to our surprise, the Bench did not assemble,” Rohtagi told the CJI.
“If Justice D Y Chandrachud is not available tomorrow, then I will constitute a separate Bench,” the CJI said, adding that Justice Chandrachud had gone to Mumbai to attend the last rites of senior advocate T R Andhyarujina, who died early on Tuesday.
Rohatgi told the court that ordering closure of liquor vends along highways will come into effect from April 1 and this leads to a situation where an urgent hearing is needed.
States like Kerala, Punjab, and Telangana have approached the apex court seeking modification of its order. The Kerala government had sought the Attorney General’s opinion on the ruling and approached the court citing a huge loss of revenue to it. The A-G, in his opinion, said the order banning liquor vends on State and National Highways does not apply to bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
Earlier in March, the Tamil Nadu government too had moved the court seeking extension of time for relocation of retail liquor shops along the highways till the expiry of their licence period.