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India's Supreme Court bans liquor shops along national, state highways

The court also added that the relationship between man and god is an?individual choice. 'State is forbidden to interfere in such an activity,' it said. Photograph: (Getty)

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 15, 2016, 07.46 AM (IST)

India’s supreme court on Thursday ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national and state highways across the country.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, and headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur also ordered that all signages indicating the presence of liquor vends will be prohibited on national and state highways.

The bench said the existing licences of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after March 31, 2017.

Last week, the top court had expressed its concern over 1.5 lakh fatalities reported every year in road mishaps, saying it may direct closure of liquor vends on national and state highways across the nation, apart from the removal of the signages indicating their location.

While reserving verdict on December 7 on a batch of pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways, the court came down heavily on the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways if they are "elevated" ones and the vend are under or near it.

"Look at the number of licences you (Punjab) have given. Because the liquor lobby is so powerful, everyone is happy. The excise department is happy, the excise minister is happy and the state government is also happy that they are making money. If a person dies due to this, you give Rs one or 1.5 lakh. That is it. You should take a stand which is helpful for the society," the bench had said, news agency PTI reported.

The bench had also expressed unhappiness over alleged inaction by various states in removing liquor shops alongside roads which lead to a spike in fatalities caused by drunken driving.

The bench also lashed out at the Central government for not doing anything concrete for the last 10 years forcing the court to “step in”.

(WION with inputs from PTI)

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