Chennai, April 25
The Madras High Court on Tuesday restrained the Tamil Nadu government from opening/reopening or relocating liquor shops along or abutting the national or state highways in the southern state for three months.
The Supreme Court in December 2016 banned liquor shops within 500 metres on either side of national and state highways. It also banned hotels and restaurants along these highways from serving liquor.
Following the Supreme Court verdict, the Tamil Nadu government closed all its state-run liquor shops located within the said limit.
With liquor sales accounting for a major chunk of state revenues, the government was said to be keen on opening/reopening liquor outlets and sent out a circular to local bodies to reclassify the state highways and bring them under their direct control.
The court was hearing Public Interest Litigations filed in the matter.
“Like an alcoholic wanting a peg (of liquor), the state government is bent upon opening liquor outlets,” remarked PMK leader K.Balu, one of the petitioners who challenged the government move to reclassify the state highways.
Reacting to the court’s decision, PMK founder S. Ramadoss said it is a “major victory” for his party that has been campaigning for prohibition in the southern state.
He said the party has been fighting legally for the past five years on the issue, resulting in the apex court ordering the closure of over 94,000 outlets across the country, including 3,321 in Tamil Nadu.
In a statement issued here, Ramadoss said while the state government counsel argued that highway reclassification is not to facilitate opening of liquor outlets, he was unable to give an undertaking that no liquor outlet will be opened on reclassified stretch.
The PMK founder said people were agitating over proposed move to open liquor shops in residential areas of Tamil Nadu.
Chennai, April 25