HC permits liquor outlets on national and state highways within city limits


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In a major ruling, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court on Thursday permitted liquor sell and consumption situated on national and state highways within limits of Municipal Corporation of Nagpur. A specially constituted division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Rohit Deo ordered the State Excise Department to restore licences of bars and wine shops of licence holders whose licences have been renewed for the year 2017-18 immediately.

The court has further directed the State Excise Department to clear its stand on licence holders whose licences have not been renewed. The Department has to put its side before the court on September 5, 2017. The applications for renewal of licences of such liquor outlets have to be decided at the earliest. Meanwhile, within one week from today, guidelines will be issued to State Excise authorities for renewal of licences. The licensees can approach the Excise authorities at district level for the same.

The High Court had directed the State Government to spell out its own stance on Thursday in the light of order issued by the Supreme Court clarifying that its ban on liquor sell and consumption on national and state highways was not applicable to licensed establishments situated on national and state highways within municipal limits. The Apex Court order had clearly stated that a highway means essentially a road connecting cities, towns and villages, and excludes all intra-city arterial roads. Though the Supreme Court order has effectively resolved the grievances of licensed establishments within municipal areas, but still a large number of petitions requires adjudication.

Following the Supreme Court order, the aggrieved liquor vendors, shopkeepers and hotel owners had moved an application before the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court demanding immediate restoration of their license. The State Government sought some time to formulate and spell out its stance and promised to spell it soon.

Following the High Court order, the State Excise Department will restore licences of all existing licence holders in the first step, will seek some time like one or two weeks to renew eligible but lapsed licenses not renewed after March 31. This is likely to provide major reprieve to around 92 per cent hotels, permit rooms within Nagpur city. Most of the liquor joints, shops, and permit rooms in Nagpur are located on Ring Road, Wardha Road, Amravati Road, Central Avenue, and have been shut since April 1.