Highway Liquor Ban: Justified Or Misuse Of Constitutional Laws Backed

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Highway Liquor ban: Justified or Misuse of constitutional laws backed by personal grudge?

Highway Liquor ban: Justified or Misuse of constitutional laws backed by personal grudge?

It is unconstitutional. In one stroke all the excise laws within the country were whipped out. The Supreme Court’s ban on the selling and serving of liquor along Indian highways would cause closure or downsizing of an estimated number of 35,000 hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars in the western region alone risking 1 million jobs.

"The objective is to check drunken driving and so there is no dilution of the original order passed by this court. Drunken driving as the objective is a major cause of road accidents in the country," a bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar ruled.

highway liquor ban justified or misuse of constitutional laws backed by personal grudge

The court’s decision came on a public interest litigation case seeking to curb road accidents on highways due to drunken driving. But looking at the road accident stats, the percentage of accidents due to drunk driving is the lowest, whereas most of the accidents recorded are on account of speeding or overloading of trucks. So why is drunk driving being hammered??

Harman Sidhu, a road safety crusader and the man who filed the original petition which eventually led to the Supreme Court verdict banning sale of liquor along state and national highways says, “Drivers get distracted by liquor vends along highways and the SC order will help check the number of road accidents”

Like really? The one who has an urge to drink would eventually drink and drive. What makes one think that he/she will not take a de route for a drink and drive back to the highway?? Those who want to drink desperately would make arrangements irrespectively.

highway liquor ban justified or misuse of constitutional laws backed by personal grudge

Apart from this, The Indian food service industry, standing at Rs 408 thousand crores today, would lose close to about Rs. 200 thousand crores on account of this verdict. Excise revenue from alcohol is Rs 12,000 crore per annum, which would also fall by half. The travel and tourism sector contributes 7% of India’s GDP and generates 37.4 million jobs, but due to the highway liquor sale ban, at least 5% or 1 million jobs will be lost.

So the question here is, are we ever going to be a developed country or will we keep struggling for say next how many years? 10?? 15?? 20??

While road safety activists have welcomed the move wholeheartedly, it is a sad day for the hotel industry. It is not only the fear of losing out on business, but hundreds of people working in this industry have lost out on their jobs.

ShoutLo brings you an estimate of affected outlets across the country due to the ban on the sale of liquor within 500 meters of highways.

Maharashtra

As per the estimates, Maharashtra seems to be the worst affected, of the 25,513 liquor shops and bars in Maharashtra, 15,699 have been affected by the ban and government would suffer a loss of Rs 7,000 crore due to closures. According to some analysts, Maharashtra has a 12-14 percent share of the total liquor market. The industry contributes nearly Rs 13,000 crore as revenue in the form of excise through the liquor vending licenses in the state.

Goa

The ruling is being seen as a big blow to Goa with this order, Of the approximately 12,000 outlets, 3,080 liquor traders, including bars, restaurants, wholesalers, retailers and warehouses have been shut down, leading to a revenue loss of Rs 55 crore.

Delhi

In Delhi 704 restaurants with bar licenses, 399 private vends and 170 liquor shops in the malls and 350 government-run liquor outlets have been affected. This includes hotels in Delhi Aerocity. In neighbouring

Gurgaon

Gurgaon, too, many five-star hotels and restaurants such as those in DLF CyberHub along the National Highway 48, earlier called NH-8 would also be hit.

Pune

In Pune, there are about 1,950 restaurants that sell liquor, out of which as many as 1,600 have been affected by the order.

Tamil Nadu

Of the 5,672 liquor outlets (not bars) in Tamil Nadu, 2,700 have been affected. The loss is estimated at Rs180 crore daily on weekdays. The Supreme Court order also effectively shuts down 2,700 Tasmac liquor outlets. If the ban stays the way it is, Tamil Nadu could lose anything between Rs 4,500 crore and Rs 10,000 crore in revenues from the sale of liquor.

Karnataka

Out of the 10,149 liquor stores, bars and hotels in Karnataka, as many as 5,950 outlets located are located within 500 meters of highways — 2,510 wine shops, 1,599 bars, 219-star hotels and 173 clubs.

Punjab

In Punjab, the business has been hit overnight. Over 10,000 outlets, including 3,000 wedding venues, have been affected. Punjab Excise department has suspended the licenses of about 2500 liquor outlets across the state.

Haryana

The Haryana government is likely to lose annual revenue of Rs 100 crore as the state has to close 40 per cent of the total 478 bars located in hotels and restaurants in the state.

Telangana

In Telangana, there are 1,040 liquor shops on highways out of which 500 of these shops are on NH-65 and NH-44 that are affected

Andhra Pradesh

In Andhra Pradesh, there are 1,090 liquor outlets on highways that are affected, most of them on the coastal NH-16, and Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway.

Jharkhand

In Jharkhand, of the total 1,432 liquor shops, at least 670 shops are affected that fall within 500 meters of the highways.

West Bengal

West Bengal has about 1,800 off-shops (a retail outlet that just sells liquor) within 500 meters of highways, generating a total of over Rs 1,000 crore have been affected.

Kerala

Around 1,700 liquor vends were forced to shut down in Kerala. Of 5,100 toddy shops, 1,080 are located on the highways. Out of 30 five-star category hotels, 11 have had to suspend liquor bar operations. Among the state’s 34 clubs, 18 cannot operate bars as per the Supreme Court directive. A rough estate showed that the state would lose a revenue of Rs 2,200 crore.

Odisha

In Odisha, even a military canteen was shut following the ban along with 1,167 outlets located within 500 meters of the national highways. They included 60 hotels, 205 restaurants, 51 beer parlors, and 74 country spirit shops. The estimated the annual loss is about Rs 1,000 crore.

Gujarat

Gujarat, a dry state, with 56 licensed liquor, of which 12 on highways are shut down.

And more could be added to that list.

However, Northeastern States of Sikkim and Meghalaya got a fill exemption from the 500-m no-liquor zone ban after the court took into consideration their hilly terrain and also the fact that 82% of its area is forest and over 90% of its liquor shops would be closed if the ban is imposed strictly in its original form.

While most of the states would be affected in terms of revenue because of the move, some have found a novel way to skirt the ban. The move meant that these highways were denotified as city roads to be maintained by the Corporation, which will allow liquor outlets to continue operations on these roads.

So far four states & UT — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chandigarh — have already denotified the state highways. As a result, they will not be required to wind up liquor shops, permit rooms and bars as per the apex court order.

highway liquor ban justified or misuse of constitutional laws backed by personal grudge

Curbing easy access along the highway might bring down drunk driving accidents but it will also make millions of people lose their jobs in wake of the ban.

Abhilasha Sidana

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Abhilasha Sidana
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