The Tribune – State attempt to bypass SC liquor ban challenged

It is pleaded that the state has shown a ‘narrow pedantic approach’ for the sake of revenue

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 28 June 2017. Just about a week after Punjab came out with an amendment Bill to permit the supply of liquor at hotels, restaurants, clubs and other notified places, a Vacation Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today put the state on notice.

The Bench of Justice Anita Chaudhry and Justice Harminder Singh Madaan also issued notice regarding stay on the petition filed by NGO Arrive Safe Society through its president Harman Singh Sidhu.

The Bench fixed July 24 as the next date of hearing for the state and other respondents to respond to the averments raised. Sidhu contended that the Supreme Court had directed all states and union territories to forthwith cease and desist from granting licences for the sale of liquor along national and state highways.

It directed: “No shop for the sale of liquor shall be visible from a national or state highway; directly accessible from a national or state highway and situated within a distance of 500 metres of the outer edge of the national or state highway or of a service lane along the highway.”

But the state brought the “impugned” amendment to the Punjab Excise Act to dodge the orders. He added that the state government, instead of recognising the Supreme Court’s concern in trying to remedy the mischief of drunken driving from the highway, has shown a “narrow pedantic approach just for the sake of revenue”.

Sidhu argued liquor vends camouflaged as a restaurant, hotel or club would be found everywhere along the highways without any consideration for public health, public morality, and public peace, if the impugned amendment was allowed to operate. It would resultantly lead to traffic chaos, health hazard and frequent road accidents.

He added that the amendment was “nothing short of a political response with an ulterior motive to dismantle the foundation of the verdict given by the Supreme Court”.

Dubbing the term “notified place” as “vague”, he submitted that the expression would definitely be misused to mean “tavern” and the Supreme Court judgment in national interest would be diluted.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/state-attempt-to-bypass-sc-liquor-ban-challenged/428992.html

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