New Delhi, September 8: In what is believed to be a major relief for liquor vendors and bar owners across India, shops that had downed shutters following Supreme Court’s order in April have now reopened after 5 months. This move is set to benefit small time bar owners as the Supreme Court issued a clarification saying that said alcohol could be sold along denotified highways and those passing through municipal belts. Following the ruling, the Excise Departments of several states have relaxed the highway ban on liquor shops and traders falling under the jurisdiction of Municipal areas. After the SC clarification, Excise Departments of various states directed the officers concerned to de-seal such establishments located within 500 metres of highways in municipal areas.

From midnight of April 1, wine shops selling Indian and foreign liquor, country liquor shops, and bars located within 500 metres of state or national highways across the state were shut down. The livelihood of people who were into liquor selling business was severely affected by the closure following the Supreme Court ruling.

Delhi:

Following the SC’s clarification on the issue that its order does not prohibit licensed establishments within municipal areas, the Delhi government has ordered the de-sealing of these establishments. This means Liquor shops, bars along highways in Delhi have now reopened. “In view of the court’s directions, the in-charge along with the team, is directed to de-seal liquor stores (falling in municipal areas) which were sealed in compliance of the Supreme Court order dated December 15, 2016 and March 31, 2017,” the department said in its order.

Maharashtra:

Maharashtra State Excise department on Monday issued orders to renew liquor licences of such establishments which were suspended on April 1. State Excise Commissioner Ashwini Joshi issued the order on Monday bringing relief to more than 15000 establishments selling liquor which were shut down when the December 15, 2016 apex court order was implemented from April 1, 2017.

Liquor shops within 500 metres of a state or national highway in 10 municipal corporation including Thane, Pune, Kalyan-Dombivli, Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nashik had remained shut for last five months, resulting in huge losses. After highway liquor ban starting April 1, 15, 699 licences out of 25,513 liquor licences in the state were cancelled. This led to an estimated revenue loss of Rs 7000 crore. As per reports, out of 4,272 country liquor shops, 2,594 had to down their shutters while out of 1,712 Indian and Foreign liquor shops, 831 faced cancellations.

After five months after remaining closed following the highway liquor ban, a total of 270 establishments serving alcohol, including bars, hotels and off-shops, reopened in the civic limits of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. Following the SC order on April 1, about 380 bars, clubs, liquor vends and beer shops along highways passing through Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad were shut.

The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court on Thursday too permitted liquor sell and consumption situated on national and state highways within limits of Municipal Corporation of Nagpur. After the Supreme Court order, the liquor vendors, shopkeepers and hotel owners had moved an application before the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court demanding immediate restoration of their license. This is likely to provide major reprieve to around 92 per cent hotels, permit rooms within Nagpur city

Goa gets relief too:

The liquor ban was also lifted in Goa. According to a tweet, almost 1.5k bars, liquor shops across Goa got relief as Excise Department relaxed National Highway ban for Liquor shops in Municipal areas. The Excise Department in an order directed the officers concerned to de-seal such establishments located within 500 metres of highways in municipal areas.

The recent move implies that all the liquor shops, bars, and restaurants serving alcohol, which were sealed following the court’s order, will be reopened in the three municipal areas which cover most parts of the city.

Chandigarh:

The ban on the sale of liquor within 500 metres of highways has also been lifted in Chandigarh. Following the apex court’s order, the ban on the sale of liquor was imposed on April 1 this year. As per reports by Chandigarhmetro.com, the ban on liquor sale led to the closure of more than 100 bars in the state. It also informed that an estimated 2,000 people had lost their jobs and had led to a steep fall in revenue generated from the hotels.

What was the Supreme Court order?

The Supreme Court in December last year had banned the sale of liquor within 500 metres of state and national highways across the nation from April 1 this year. Following the SC order, the Excise Department had formed a panel to seal liquor shops and bars falling within the 500-metre radius from highways. “In view of the court’s directions, the in-charge along with the team is directed to de-seal liquor stores (falling in municipal areas) which were sealed in compliance of the Supreme Court order dated December 15, 2016 and March 31, 2017,” the department said in its order.

Further the Excise Department order reiterated a part of the apex court order that said: “The purpose of the directions contained in the order dated December 15, 2016 is to deal with the sale of liquor along and in proximity of highways. “The order does not prohibit licensed establishments within municipal areas. This clarification shall govern other municipal areas as well.”