Thousands of liquor shops and bars on highways went dry on Saturday as  Supreme Court’s ban on the sale of alcohol along national and state highways.

Cities, towns and municipal areas with a population of 20,000 or less could have alcohol vends beyond a range of 220m from highways not 500m which was earlier decided by the court in December 2016, said a bench led by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar.

The bench had also held in its order in 2016, that all existing licenses to sell liquor would expire on April 1 & fresh licenses would be granted only after such vendors relocate and comply with court-mandated rules. However modifying this direction, the bench Friday said that subsisting licenses could operate till September 30 as not all states granted excise licenses for a period between April 1 and March 30.

This has also been noticed by the court that people had already invested in getting the licenses and a state like Telangana issued its licenses in November 2016 only (less than a month before the prohibition was imposed). But the bench said that the Tamil Nadu government will not get any relaxation regarding the extension of licenses till September 30 since liquor shops are run by the state government, which had agreed to comply with the April 1 deadline.

Overall all states are effected by this booze ban. 42 liquor stores in Noida, 106 of a 292 highway bars in Gurugram have stopped selling and serving liquor. 1,300 to 1,400 liquor vendors in Punjab have already stopped or move to other locations.

Around 200 bars in Haryana are affected by the apex court’s order, around 2,800 liquor shops situated in or along national and state highways in Rajasthan have been affected.

According to the Maharashtra state hotel association, approx. 1,000 star hotels have been affected after authorities enforced the ban. The state government has claimed it will lose Rs 7,000 crore a year due to this ban.


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