The Supreme Court Tuesday held new positions in two cases of great importance that seemed to contradict the conclusions it had reached in the past, without any change in the facts.
In December last year, the court banned the operation of liquor stores and bars within 500 meters of highways. The reasoning, quite justified, was that a large number of liquor stores on national and state roads increased cases of drunken driving and life-threatening.
The court heard the matter for months and concluded that a ban on the sale of alcohol on roads would significantly reduce traffic accidents. Criticism followed the judgment, questions about whether a better policy or alcohol ban was a more effective way of reducing accidental deaths due to drunk driving.
There were also technical difficulties in enforcing the ban, as large cities also had roads through them. Several states and territories of the union, including Chandigarh, argued that the ban in the municipality affects the tourism sector.
One of the biggest concerns, not openly expressed by the States, was the loss of income from sales taxes on alcohol. In countries like Tamil Nadu, a huge income from the sale of alcohol, which is used to serve popular schemes of social protection.
That is why, even after announcing its intention to gradually introduce the ban, the government of Tamil Nadu managed to close 1000 only some of the nearly 9,000 liquor stores in the state after they announced the May 2016 policy.
But the Supreme Court did not raise the means to exclude motorways within the municipal boundaries of the ban. The court in December said:
“We see no rational basis for excluding sections of national highways and state highways that fall within the boundaries of a municipal or local authority (with a population of more than a stipulated number) under the proposed ban.
When a national or national highway passes through a city, city or by the jurisdiction of an area of local authority, it would completely negate the meaning and logic to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages along this stretch of road .
Such exclusion would be against the policy since the presence of liquor stores in such sections of a national or national road would allow drivers to replenish their stock of alcohol, resulting in a situation that policy seeks to avoid in the first ” .
However on Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed state governments to deny highways within municipal boundaries, effectively denying the very purpose of the December order.
“We would have liked it if roads were in the nature of a road where traffic was fast. All roads are described in (the) city where there is no rapid movement,” said a presiding judge of India, JS Khehar, which clearly indicate that cities see a high incidence of traffic accidents.
In 2015, Chennai and Bangalore recorded more than 12,140 traffic accidents, resulting in more than 1,600 deaths. While deterioration is a technical aspect of the classification of roads, the court seems to have overlooked the fact that it would do very little to change the physical nature of these routes, which are generally turned out to be the main roads of Cities.