The Supreme court has banned sale of liquor on national and state highways and in any shops within 500 metres from the highways, saying that drunken driving is the main cause of increased road accidents. The judgment ordered that the prohibition on sale of liquor alongside highways would also extend to stretches that fall within limits of municipal corporations, city towns and local authorities.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao said the licences of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after March 31, 2017.
Remove all sign boards of liquor- Visibility is the first temptation
This is how the judgement read: “We would not like any vend on national highways, state highways, advertisements, or signage about availability of liquor shops. All signboards should be removed. Roads should be absolutely free from any distraction or attractions. Visibility is the first temptation.”
1.5 lakh fatalities annually in road accidents
Blaming the centre and state governments for not doing enough to prevent the high accident rates, the apex court directed the Chief Secretaries and police chiefs of all state governments and union territories to strictly enforce the ban.
“An analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour.”
Are the state governments backing liquor lobbies?
Questioning the state governments of allowing free sale of liquor on highways inspite of the glaring increase in road accidents, the Supreme court wondered if revenue from liquor sales was the only concern. The court was shocked to learn that there were 62 liquor shops along a 1km stretch on the national highway in Mahe district, Puducherry. The place is a haven for tipplers from Kerala where drinking and sale of alcohol is prohibited.