Nagpur: With the Supreme Court reserving its order on pleas for a relook at its verdict banning liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways from April 1 with the top law officer (Attorney General) saying the judgement needs rectification as the “budget of the states will go for a six”, utter confusion prevails among stakeholders whether to pay the license renewal fees or not. The deadline for remittance of license renewal fees for liquor vendors ends at 2 pm of March 31. The annual fees can be paid at SBI branches.
On the other hand, at the stroke of 12 in the night on March 31, the Excise Department would go on locking licensee wine shops, bars, and breweries. The bars and permit rooms outside the limit of 500 metres are hoping for a relief from the apex court.
Maharashtra has a total of 4110 country liquor shops out of which 984 shops are in Nagpur District. If Supreme Court sticks to its earlier order, 606 country liquor shops out of 984 would be forced to down their shutters.
On the other hand, the number of Indian made foreign liquor shops in the state stands at 1667 out of which 220 are in Nagpur district. 726 shops including 135 in the district could face closure across the state.
The final verdict is being awaited.
The Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi argued that the December 15, 2016 verdict of the apex court will have its repercussion as “the budget of every state will go for a six”. Rohatgi said national highways and state highways cannot be compared and what can be considered for the former cannot be considered for the latter.
“All of India cannot be compared. Some towns in totality are situated along the state highways and if you say that liquor vends cannot be allowed in the vicinity of 500 meters then where will they go,” he told the bench, comprising Chief Justice Khehar, Justices D Y Chandrachud and L N Rao during the hearing.