Liqour ban: HC raps Centre, state for poor coordination on denotifying highways

Liqour ban: HC raps Centre, state for poor coordination on denotifying highways

Judge says inaction has led to lakhs of rupees going down the drain

The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday came down heavily on the state and the Central governments for lack of co-ordination between them in denotifying the national highways that cut across the city.

The Supreme Court in its order in December 2016 prohibited the functioning of liquor outlets on highways and directed the excise department not to renew those liquor licenses, which had their outlets within 500 metres on either side of the highways.

Justice Vineet Kothari, hearing a batch of petitions, said that the inaction of the state as well as the Central governmentshas resulted in lakhs of rupees going down the drain. He said that most of the litigations that come to  court is due to inaction of the government.

During the hearing, the  judge recorded the affidavit submitted by Additional Advocate General A S Ponnanna, which said that the state government has written to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to denotify or omit different sections of the national highways passing through the cities and towns in Karnataka that includes 77.64 km of road running through Bengaluru city.

The state government said that most of the roads (such as MG Road, Brigade Road) cannot be construed as highways at all, since they have lost the character of a highway as movement of heavy transport vehicles is prohibited and parking is allowed on one side of the road. The state government has said that it lacks the legislative competence and it was for the Centre to take an appropriate stand in the matter.

Through a communication, the Central government on April 23, 2015, had said that a section of the national highway, which has been bypassed, would cease to be part of the national highway network and would no longer vest with the Centre, and responsibility lies with the state government.  

The petitioners, liquor licence holders, have said that NH-4 and NH-7 have been bypassed by developing ring road by the Bangalore Development Authority in the past. Due to the absence of an appropriate notification by the Centre or the state government, the petitioners’ outlets that lie on these highways have been denied the opportunity of getting their liquor licenves renewed.

The Centre informed the court that through a government order on June 15, 2017, a list of national highways within the city/town limits in Karnataka for which bypasses have been constructed are denotifed. But, NH-4 and NH-7 that pass through Bengaluru city are not mentioned in the list.

The counsel for the Central government, H Jayakara Shetty, sought a week’s time to reply to the court on denotifying the highways. The judge adjourned the hearing to July 27.

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