The amendment was passed by amending Section 26-A of the Excise Act to allow the serving of liquor in hotels, restaurants and clubs on the highway. (Representative image, source: Max Pixel) Photograph: (Others)
The Punjab Assembly on Friday passed an amendment to allow liquor to be served in hotels, restaurants and clubs on the highway.
The Punjab government has bypassed the order of the Supreme Court banning liquor outlets within 500 metres of state and national highways across the country.
The amendment was passed by amending Section 26-A of the Excise Act to allow the serving of liquor in hotels, restaurants and clubs on the highway.
On March 30, the top court had ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national and state highways across the country.
The top court had expressed concern over the 1.5 lakh fatalities reported every year in road mishaps.
The court had added that existing licences of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after March 31, 2017.
The Supreme Court had come came down heavily on the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways if they were "elevated"and the vends were 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.
The bench of Supreme Court judges had also blamed the federal government for failing to take steps to counter mishaps resulting from drunken driving.