The plea was dismissed as the state could not provide alternative bypass routes to the stretches proposed for denotifictation.

Ktaka bar owners forced to relocate as HC dismisses plea for denotification of highways
news Liquor Ban Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 08:14

Pubs in Bengaluru, which had to stop serving liquor due to the highway ban, are now disillusioned as the Karnataka High Court dismissed the bar owners’ plea to denotify national highway stretches.

On Tuesday, the HC dismissed the petition, while referring to the Madras HC verdict in the Tamil Nad v/s Balu case, Times of India reported.

“In view of the clear and binding restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court in the case of State of Tamil Nadu vs Balu, this court cannot issue any direction to the excise department of the state to consider the applications of the petitioners for renewal of their excise licences,“ Justice Vineet Kothari observed and dismissed petitions filed by Siddi Enterprises and others.

On August 14, the Centre, in its communication to the Karnataka government, had said that its proposal for denotification of stretches of national highways citing the prevailing apex court's order, was not possible.

Justice Vineet Kothari observed that with the state having approached the Centre and placed necessary evidence before it and the Centre conveying its decision in the August 14 letter, the court could not “ignore the decision as prayed for by the petitioner”.

The plea was dismissed as the state could not provide alternative bypass routes to the stretches proposed for denotifictation.

The state cited that NH-207 was acting as a bypass for NH-4 and NH-7, while NICE Road connected NH-7, NH-4, NH-209, NH-275 and it was a four-lane carriageway which should be considered as a bypass on the south-east side of Bengaluru.

“This state road is developed on BOT model by the state government and the concession period is up to 2021. It is difficult to consider the same as a bypass to the NH,” the Centre had conveyed to the Karnataka government through a letter.

Several bar owners on MG Road and Brigade Road are within 500 metres of national highways and had approached the court as their licenses were not renewed by the Excise Department due to the Supreme Court order banning liquor sale on highways. 

The Karnataka government had asked the Centre to denotify 147 isolated stretches of national highways of about 609.65 km. A map of the roads was also submitted by the PWD department to the Centre on August 7, 2017. 

But the Union transport ministry said that none of these NH stretches qualified for “deemed denotification” as per their policy. Denotifying these stretches “would tantamount to permitting isolated discontinuities in NH corridors scattered over the NH network within the state. This would not serve the very objective of having NHs”. Based on this, the High Court dismissed the petitions by several bars owners. 

Now, bar owners have no other option but to relocate to other areas. Commenting on the HC’s dismissal, Joint Excise Commissioner, Rajendra Prasad said that 2,800 liquor shops in the state would have to relocate as there is no possibility of renewing their licenses.


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