Over 3,000 liquor vendors across Karnataka have gone out of business following the Supreme Court order prohibiting the sale of alcohol within a distance of 500m from state and national highways.
Facing a major dent in its revenues from the sale of liquor licenses, the state government is planning to modify its excise law bypass the rule. In this, the Karnataka government is looking to follow the path opened up by the Punjab government.
With the proposed amendment, the state government plans to redefine the term liquor sale to allow customers to consume alcohol within the premises of bars and pubs.
â€śThe proposed amendment will make it legal for bars and restaurants to serve alcohol within their building premises, even if they are located on highways. The amended legislation will allow only bars and restaurants to serve alcohol to their customers inside their building premises even if they are located on a highway. Customers cannot buy alcohol from the bar and drink it while on the road. It has to be consumed within the bar or restaurant,â€ť an official within the Law Department said.
â€śWe expect the Centre to denotify the national highways running through cities but if that does not happen, we need to ensure that businesses in our state do not get affected,â€ť he added.
The Karnataka government is planning this move as it has not received any assurance from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways regarding the denotification of national highways that run through cities, said an official in the Excise department.
The reason for the state governmentâ€™s proposed amendment is that over one lakh jobs will be affected by the closure of over 3,000 bars and restaurants located on highways, the official added.
Currently, the proposal has been referred to the state Law Department. â€śThe proposal is being studied and a panel has been formed to look into it. The government will take a decision only after the panel delivers its opinion,â€ť the Law Department official told TNM.
However, it is unclear whether the Punjab governmentâ€™s Punjab Excise Amendment Bill 2017, on which the Karnataka proposal is based, will survive legal challenge. The amendment was challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which has issued a notice to the government, seeking a reply by July 24.