New Delhi, December 15: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed to close liquor shops on national and state highways to curb the rate of deadly accidents. Starting April 1, there will be no liquor shops on national or on state highways, the Supreme Court ordered today.
The apex court set April 1 as the deadline to ensure all such shops on all highways are shut. And licenses of liquor shops on highways won't be renewed after April 1. The top court's order was on a public interest litigation filed by an NGO called 'Arrive Safe'.
Last Wednesday, a Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices DY Chandrachud and LN Rao said it would try to end drunk driving on highways.
Earlier on December 7, the apex court, while reserving verdict on a batch of pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways, came down heavily on the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways if they are “elevated” ones and the vend are under or near it.
“Look at the number of licenses you (Punjab) have given. Because the liquor lobby is so powerful, everyone is happy. The excise department is happy, the excise minister is happy and the state government is also happy that they are making money. If a person dies due to this, you give Rs one or 1.5 lakh. That is it. You should take a stand which is helpful for the society,” the bench headed by chief justice TS Thakur said.
NGO called 'Arrive Safe' said that 1.42 lakh people die annually in road accidents, many of which are caused by drunk driving. The NGO said the easy availability of liquor from stores on highways was a major reason for drunk driving.