Decide the areas near municipal pockets to be exempted’
The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Tamil Nadu government to conduct a fresh survey and pass an appropriate order deciding which areas covered by local self-governing bodies or areas proximate to municipal pockets should be exempted from the Supreme Court’s nationwide prohibition on sale of liquor within 500 metres along highways.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra passed the order on a special leave petition by the Tamil Nadu government challenging a Madras High Court decision late last month, quashing a State order to open liquor shops within the municipal limits.
The High Court had passed the order on a writ petition filed by K. Balu of the Advocates’ Forum for Social Justice. Mr. Balu has moved a caveat in the apex court.
The Bench had held untenable a letter by the Prohibition and Excise Commissioner to Collectors on September 1, 2017, instructing them to allow liquor shops within certain limits to function. It had found the letter contradictory to the intent behind the Supreme Court’s ban on sale of liquor close to highways.
The High Court had confined its direction to liquor shops run by the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC).
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi for the State said the High Court order amounted to a “complete misunderstanding” of the Supreme Court’s orders.
“My Lords has clarified that liquor shops can function within municipal limits and the ban is operational only along highways. The State passed its order in terms of the Supreme Court order.
“The High Court has quashed the State order,” Mr. Rohatgi argued.
Chief Justice Misra observed that the State could pass an appropriate order “despite” the High Court order in terms with the Supreme Court’s February 25 order.
This would be looked into by the Supreme Court on the next date.