Nagpur/Mumbai: The highway borne liquor vends across the state were shut in one shot following the Supreme Court’s order banning all the wine shops, bars and permit rooms within 500 meters of state and national highways. Now the Bombay high court has objected to the manner in which these vends were closed by state government without actually checking the criteria.
The HC on Monday directed the state government to decide on each case. The secretary, public works department (roads), assisted by the state excise commissioner has to decide expeditiously by July 5 and pass reasoned orders on individual pleas of liquor vends hit by the Supreme Court’s highways liquor ban order of December 15, 2016.
Over 200 petitions were filed by outlets, including wine shops, hotels and country liquor bars, from Thane, Vasai-Virar, Pune, Kolhapur, Satara and Sangli.
Abench of Justice Shantanu Kemkar and Justice Mahesh Sonak declined interim relief. “It’s also a question of life,” said Justice Sonak, after advocates urged to direct de-sealing, saying their livelihood has been affected. The judges said cases protected by interim order, the production shall continue until the final decision by the secretary.
The court noted the petitioner’s arguments that “blanket, cyclostyled” orders were passed directing closure of business.
Advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, who was asked to produce a notification under Maharashtra Highways Act classifying roads as state highways. said there is no need for such notification to apply the SC’s order and it has to be seen “is the spirit in which it has been passed”. He said the SC has used the terms “state highways and national highways loosely” and it refers to major roads connecting cities where there is heavy vehicular traffic.
He also said the apex court considered public safety and how to curb fatalities due to drunken driving.
Kumbhakoni said SC has made collectors accountable for implementation of its directions.