The Supreme Court's earlier decision to ban liquor vends, as well as restaurants, bars and hotels serving liquor within 500 meters of national and state highways had come as a major blow to the Restaurant and Hospitality Industry. There were arguments that this ban will have long-term repercussions not only on the government's excise revenues but their own sales which will also have an impact on livelihoods of thousands of people who are employed in the food and beverage industry.
The decision was met with shock as it the liquor ban led to adverse effects on the business, however, several restaurant and bars came up with loopholes in the system to continue their business. Read how restro-bars and pubs beat the law to continue serving alcohol here.
Reclassification of Highways and Removal of Restaurants and Bars from the Highway Liquor Ban
According to reports, many states including Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, and Maharashtra had asked the central government to reclassify some highways as urban roads. Maharashtra government became the first state in the country to order reclassification of highways as it re-notified six stretches of over 20 km in Jalgaon city as state highways. The order nullifies the state government’s March 31 order denotifying these roads and transferring them to Jalgaon Municipal Corporation from the Public Works Department (PWD), saving liquor vends and restaurants that serve liquor in the process.
The reclassification of roads is perceived to be an attempt to find a way around the Supreme Court ruling that bans the sale of liquor within 500 m of a National or State Highway.
In Bengaluru, at least 3,200 liquor vends operating near state highways spanning a length of 1,476.69km have been saved from closing down since they have been redesignated as city roads. Restaurants and bars which have been serving liquor in Karnataka can rejoice and the excise industry can draw a sigh of relief. Apparently, the state government has taken this step in the interest of development along with to facilitate civic work along the highways
Following the reclassification of State Highways, on June 20, 2017, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh gave its agreement to remove restaurants, pubs, hotels, and clubs from the restrictions on serving liquor within 500 meters on highways. The article 26-A of Punjab Excise Act, 1914 has been amended and a provision has been added which implies that these restrictions will not apply to the restaurants, hotels, clubs situated on the national and state highways.