Ban on Highway Bars: SC asks State Govt. to consider hoteliers’ plea on serving liquor
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Ban on Highway Bars: SC asks State Govt. to consider hoteliers’ plea on serving liquor

New Delhi:  There seems to be some good news for hoteliers as the Supreme Court (SC) has asked the Karnataka Government to consider the plea of over 1,000 hotels which served liquor to their guests and customers, but suffered adverse consequences of the Apex Court’s ban on such vends around National and State Highways.

A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud told Additional Advocate General Devadatt Kamat, representing the State Government, to decide the plea by the Karnataka State Tourism Hotel Owners Association and others within six weeks.

The hotels owners, led by senior advocate H.N. Nagmohan Das, challenged a Karnataka High Court judgement of June 30, 2017 that had declined to interfere into the ban imposed by the SC on sale of liquor around 500 metres of National Highways and 220 metres of State Highways.

The Bench, however, said that the Court had already clarified the order on Feb.23 this year and earlier as well. The Apex Court had then said the State Government would have discretion to declare a particular area to be under the local self-government and Municipal limits.

The Court had, on July 11, 2017, exempted Municipal areas from the prohibition, saying the ban was intended to cover National and State Highways inter-connecting cities, towns and villages on the way.

The ban, imposed by a Dec.2016 judgement, was to prevent drunken-driving and road accidents along the Highways. “The order does not prohibit licensed establishments within Municipal areas,” the Court had clarified.

The hoteliers felt aggrieved with the Apex Court’s order as their premises fell within a range of 500 and 220 metres. They claimed they were having permanent buildings with over 20 and 30 rooms, which cannot be shifted. They said they used to sell liquor to guests, casual visitors and customers only.

In Mysuru, there are 46 bars and restaurants on the State Highways and 119 on National Highways. In all, there are 495 bars and restaurants and the licences of 330 outlets were renewed on June 30, 2017 as they did not come under the Supreme Court order. The licences of 165 bars were not renewed. The latest SC order seems to have come as a relief to them.

May 14, 2018

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