Prohibition on sale of liquor along National and State highways

Supreme Court: While stressing upon the alarming statistics on the occurrence of road accidents due to drunken driving the Full Bench comprising of T.S. Thakur, CJ., D.Y. Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao, JJ. prohibited all States and Union Territories from granting licenses for the sale of liquor along national and state highways. In 2007, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had issued a circular to all the State Governments advising them to remove liquor shops situated along national highways and not to issue fresh licenses. Moreover, the Union Government had formulated for adoption by the States a Model Policy, which provided for a minimum distance from the state/national highways for locating liquor shops. However, an exception was carved out to the effect that the national or state highways would not include such parts of them as are situated within the limits of local authorities.

The Supreme Court noted that though the advisories issued are confined to national highways, it would defy common sense to prohibit liquor shops along national highways while permitting them on state highways, and thereby directed all States and Union Territories to cease the granting of licenses to liquor vends along national and state highways. Also, in order to ensure that the prohibition is not defeated by artifice, the Court further directed that:

(i) The prohibition shall also extend to stretches of such highways which fall within the limits of local authorities;

(ii) Advertisements of the availability of liquor on highways are prohibited;

(iii) No shop for the sale of liquor shall be (a) visible from a highway; (b) directly accessible from a highway and (c) situated within a distance of 500 meters of the outer edge of the highway.

[State of Tamil Nadu v. K Balu, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1487, decided on December 15, 2016]

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