Punjab to obey 'spirit' of law but removes highway hiccups

"The Maharashtra government's stand was clear that it would not denotify all the highways".

Justifying the amendment, the Parliamentary Affairs minister Brahm Mohindra said liquor vends have been shifted following the Apex court order but hotels, restaurants and marriage palaces have been set up on highways with huge investments and can't be shifted to other places like the liquor vends. "Therefore, a balance is required between loss of employment and drunken driving", he said adding that the state government will run a drive against drunken driving on highways. According to the added provisions, "sale of liquor" was defined as transfer of liquor for consideration by a liquor vend for consumption by the purchaser at a place other than the premises of the liquor vend. The hotels and pubs were permitted only for "supply of liquor".

A Supreme Court ruling on selling alcohol on national highways has now threatened at least 600 wine stores and bar and restaurants in the City, including some of those located in the tony areas of M.G. Road, and Brigade Road, Indiranagar and Koramangala.

The Bill aims to ensure that hotels, restaurants, clubs and other notified places are allowed to serve alcohol only for consumption on their premises "to secure the livelihood" of a large segment of the State's population.

The Punjab Assembly passed a bill to allow hotels, restaurants and other notified places near highways in the state to serve liquor. This order of the Supreme Court came some time back and now the state government planned to implement such ban on 200 establishments in a radius of 500 m around MG Road. The industry representatives also don't think that the state government will change its stance on the ban on the sale of liquor near highways in Maharashtra.

Legislators belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Aam Aadmi Party were not present in the Assembly when the Bill was passed as they had walked out earlier.

To bypass the Supreme Court's order, states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, and Chandigarh (UT) had denotified hundreds of kilometres of highways as local roads.

  • Carolyn Briggs