Arunachal gets Liquor relief from Supreme Court

New Delhi

Supreme Court exempted Arunachal Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands from its order banning sale of liquor within 500 metres of state and national highways.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar relaxed the cap while noting that almost 50 per cent of the state revenue for Arunachal Pradesh came from the sale of liquor and 916 shops out of a total of 1,011 shops have been affected by the 500-metre cap.

The counsel appearing for Arunachal Pradesh told the court that,  “80% of the state is covered by forests; and out of Rs441.61 crore generated as revenue per year, 50% is generated out of sale of liquor.”

“Every road in Arunachal Pradesh is a national highway, whereas the state has no money for state highways. Money and expertise required for building highways is beyond (the reach of) Arunachal Pradesh. The state has a total of 1,011km of National Highways,” the counsel said.

Similarly, the bench also allowed the prayer of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and relaxed the 500-metre cap as per its March 31 order.

The apex court had on March 31 said that liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways will have to shut down from April 1, but had exempted the hill states of Sikkim, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh and areas having population up to 20,000.

Exemption for Arunachal Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands comes a day after the Supreme Court rejected a plea challenging the Chandigarh administration’s decision to denotify national and state highways to skirt a ban on the sale of liquor along them.