Presidential reference considered to overcome highway liquor ban

"Around 1,000 such hotels are affected by the liquor ban", he said.

"The Road Transport and Highways Ministry has received several requests from states to denotify some of their national highway stretches so that they could convert them as district roads", an official said.

Hundreds of members of the Federation of Wine Merchants' Associations of Karnataka met in Bengaluru on Tuesday, their first united effort after the Supreme Court refused to relax its order. Union Territory of Chandigarh has declared state highways as "major district road" about a month ago to avoid a Supreme Court ban.

In some other states, including Kerala and West Bengal, the court order has already come into force as their excise year starts on April 1. In Jharkhand, the state government has begun a crackdown on liquor shops.

However, Rajasthan is not the first in the list to denotify state highways. The court will also discuss the case with parties in the case or experts in the matter.

The centre is reported to be considering the option of a Presidential Reference to the Supreme Court on the issue.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had previously contested that prohibition should not apply to pubs and bars but the apex court refused to relax the rules and stated that the same rules apply to everyone.

"The government should work out on the new excise policy and its effective implementation instead of taking such short-term measures", said Aam Adami Party (AAP) leader Chander Suta Dogra, while criticising the state government.

"The government has decided that the special dispensation will be provided on those impacted by SC order of banning liquor shops on highways". All these places have stopped serving liquor, Shetty said.

Chennithala, however, sought to push back against this argument, saying that the revenue generated through the sale of liquor would amount to less than the costs incurred for treatments related to ill-effects of alcohol consumption. In Ahmedabad, till April 2014, there were only five liquor shops.

Over 100 liquor vends, and restaurant and hotel bars located within 500 metres of highways, have been shut down in the last two days following the Supreme Court directive to this effect. "They are not allowed to drink and drive", the source said. Around 10 more hotels have applied for licences to sell liquor. "We have sought legal opinion whether existing laws may be amended to provide some relief".

  • Leroy Wright