Supreme Court Orders Closure Of Liquor Shop Near School And Religious Institutions
The Supreme Court recently directed closure of a liquor shop in Puducherry which was located within 150 mtrs. from the temple/mosque as well as educational institution.
A Bench comprising Justice MR Shah and Justice CT Ravikumar said that relocation of liquor shop within 150 mtrs. from the temple/mosque as well as the educational institution is absolutely in teeth of directions issued by the Apex Court.
The appellant before approaching the Supreme Court filed a writ petition before the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Excise Department, Government of Puducherry to consider the representations submitted by him not to shift the liquor shop to an area which is adjacent to a school and a temple and a mosque.
The High Court dismissed the petition observing that, “[A]s per the Puducherry Excise Rules of 1970, the liquor shop can be located at the distance of more than 50 meters from the school and the temple/mosque. The distance of the relocated liquor shop would be more than 150 meters from the temple/mosque and educational institution. In view of the statement aforesaid, the Rules of 1970 have not been violated in re-locating the liquor shop”.
“The Rule which may be applicable in the Union Territory of Puducherry may not be permitted to over-rule the directions issued by this Court,” observed the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court considered an identical question in the case of State of Tamil Nadu represented by its Secretary Home, Prohibition and Excise Department and others Vs. K. Balu and another and issued the following directions to all the States and Union territories:
“29. We, accordingly, hereby direct and order as follows:
29.1 All States and Union Territories shall forthwith cease and desist from granting licences for the sale of liquor along National and State Highways;
29.2 the prohibition contained in Para 29.1 above shall extend to and include stretches of such highways which fall within the limits of a municipal corporation, city, town or local authority;
29.3 The existing licences which have already been renewed prior to the date of this order shall continue until the terms of the licence expires but not later than 1-4-2017;
29.4 All signage and advertisements of the availability of liquor shall be prohibited and existing ones removed forthwith both on National and State highways;
29.5 No shop for the sale of liquor shall be (i) visible from a national or State highway; (ii) directly accessible from a national or State highway; and (iii) situated within a distance of 500 m of the outer edge of the national or State highway or of a service lane along with highway.
29.6 All States and Union territories are mandated to strictly enforce the above directions. The Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police shall within one month chalk out a plan for enforcement in consultation with the State Revenue and Home Departments, Responsibility shall be assigned, inter alia, to District Collectors and Superintendents of Police and other competent authorities. Compliance shall be strictly monitored by calling for fortnightly reports on action taken.
29.7 These directions issue under Article 142 of the Constitution. ”
“In view of the above, the relocation of respondent no. 4 within 150 mtrs. from the temple/mosque as well as the educational institution is absolutely in teeth of directions issued by this Court …. Under the circumstances, the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court deserves to be quashed and set aside,” said the Apex Court.
The Supreme Court set aside the decision to shift the liquor shop to an area that is within 150 meters. from the temple/mosque/educational institution and directed closure of liquor shop within a period of four weeks, if such liquor shop is continuing within 150 metres.
“[R]espondent no. 4 is directed to close the and relocate the shop to an area which shall be beyond 500 mtrs. from the temple/mosque/educational institution,” said the Supreme Court.
Cause Title- KANAGACHETTIKULAM MAKKAL PODHUNALA EYAKKAM v.. UNION OF INDIA & Ors.