The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that there was no ban on bars near highways within city limits. Observing that its earlier order banning the sale of liquor on highways was not a blanket ban, the Apex Court said that state governments were well within their right to denotify highways that run within cities and exempt bars, pubs and liquor stores from liquor ban order.
"The purpose of the order was to ban liquor from highways. There is nothing wrong with States denotifying highways within city limits to avoid the ban," the Supreme Court held. The court also said that its order banning the sale of liquor within 500 metres of highways was to ensure that those driving high-speed vehicles don't drive under the influence of alcohol.
The court made these observations while hearing a plea against the decision of Chandigarh administration to denotify certain roads allegedly with an aim to "circumvent" its verdict banning liquor vends within 500 metres from the state and national highways. The Supreme Court however, refused to interfere with the decision at this juncture and deferred the hearing by a week to July 11.
The observation comes as great relief to pub and bar owners in Bengaluru. The association has been fighting for license renewal for over 700 bars and pubs that are situated in M G Road, Brigade Road, St Mark's Roads, Indiranagar, Koramangala and residency roads, all recognised as highways by the state Excise department.
For four days now, iconic pubs like Pecos in the city have been serving coffee instead of liquor after the Excise department refused to renew licenses citing Supreme Court order.