Nagpur: With the Supreme Court sticking to its December 2016 order shutting liquor outlets within 500 metres of national and state highways from Saturday (April 1), the ‘jolted and hurt’ traders have been found ‘inventing’ ways to “woo” customers by hook or crook.
While modifying its earlier order, the SC bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice L Nageswara Rao made it clear that the judgment banning liquor vends along highways would also be applicable to bars, pubs and restaurants as drunken driving leads to fatal road accidents.
The top court had even ordered dismantling of hoardings and advertisements of liquor. However, a look at some of the spots in the city would portray a different picture. On the service road of Mental Hospital-Obedullaganj National Highway, a wine shop after downing shutters on Friday (March 31), put up notice boards in the ‘interest’ of customers. One of the notice boards reads: “This wine shop has been shut down from April 1, 2017 as per Supreme Court directives. Wait for some days. For further information, contact 7709445612.” And the other notice board reads: “This wine shop will be started at another place within one month.”
But this tactic could just be a tip of iceberg. A horde of wine shops, bars, hotels, could be finding one or more ‘novel’ ways to keep their customers well informed about the places from where they can ‘quench their thurst.’
According to sources, in another move aimed at ‘mocking’ the apex court orders, the Nagpur District Permit Room Association, Country Liquor Shops Association, and Wine Shops Association have informed their members that an important meeting has been organised at Sai Shradha Lawn, Maharajbagh Road at 5 pm on Saturday (April 1). Interestingly, the associations have stressed that the licensees should themselves attend the meeting. The members have been asked not to send representatives. The association members have been urged to display unity to deal with the ‘upheaval’ caused by the Supreme Court order. The meeting could possibly hold discussions on calling a 3-day bandh to ‘protest’ the apex court directive.
The Nagpur Liquor Association, in a letter sent to Chief Minister on April 1, has pointed out that several roads within city limits are still not denotified and continue to be national & state highways, although the city has been bypassed long before. It is an established fact that, highways are used for intercity travel, when a bypass is already made. Existing internal roads within the bypass cease to be highway. Still all roads are not covered within outer ring roads as there are several city roads which are still termed as highway for development and want of funds. Please classify all the roads within outer ring road as city and district roads.
The court had ordered a ban on all liquor shops along the national as well as the state highways and had made it clear that licences of existing shops will not be renewed after March 31. The verdict had come on a PIL alleging that nearly 1.42 lakh people died per year in road mishaps and that the drunken driving is a major contributor.