Tourism ministry exploring 'middle path' over SC banning liquor sale along NHs

3 Apr 2017

The Union tourism ministry will seek legal suggestions to explore a "middle path" to solve problems being faced by hoteliers and restaurant owners following the apex court's order banning liquor sale along highways.

Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma, however, said the government will work within the framework of the directives of the Supreme Court in the matter. He said this today after a delegation of hoteliers and restaurant owners met him here on the issue of the Supreme Court's order that liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways will have to be shut down from April 1. This order is also applicable to bars, pubs and restaurants serving liquor, which give rise to drunken driving and consequential fatalities. "We respect the Supreme Court order. We will take suggestions from legal experts to see whether there can be a middle path," Sharma said.

The minister, however, said the matter is a state subject and any decision regarding it will be taken by the state government. "We will refer the problems being faced by the hoteliers and restaurant owners, due to the ban, to the states and it is for them to take necessary actions," he said. The Supreme Court on March 31 had modified its order reducing the distance to 220 metres in areas having a population of up to 20,000. This criterion is also applicable to hill states like Sikkim, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh.

Thousands of restaurants, liquor vends and bars, including those in five-star hotels, along national and state highways have been stopped from serving alcohol since Saturday.