Chandigarh can say cheers now

Chandigarh can say cheers now

 Hundreds of hotels, clubs, bars and restaurants in Chandigarh may once again get to serve liquor in wake of the Punjab Excise Amendment Bill passed by the state Assembly on Friday.

Chandigarh follows Punjab rules, just that the amendments in the excise bill — that paved the way for hotels and bars along highways in Punjab to serve liquor to guests — now need to be approved by the Centre.

Officials said they would be sending the amendments for approval shortly. Scores of hotels, bars and restaurants in Chandigarh had suffered heavy losses after the apex court’s directive on closure of liquor vends within 500 metres of highways. Some of them shut down or relocated their premises. Livelihood was hit as employers had started issuing pink slips due to dip in revenue.

The Chandigarh Hospitality Association president Ankit Gupta urged the Union Territory administration to seek the approval without delay. But Harman Sidhu, the man behind the entire exercise to get the ban ordered from the Supreme Court by way of a petition, is unhappy. Sidhu, who is president of a city-based NGO, Arrive Safe, has termed Punjab’s move a clear violation of the apex court order.

The Punjab Excise Amendment Bill 2017 introduces two clauses —18-a and 19-a — to differentiate between ‘sale’ and ‘supply’ of liquor. The first clause defines sale of liquor as ‘transfer of consideration by a liquor vend for consumption by a purchaser other than its premises. The other clause (19-a) defines sale of liquor as provision for consumption of liquor at hotels, clubs, restaurants and other places on the basis of licences issues on the condition that it shall be consumed within the premises.

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