The Kerala Toddy Shop Licensee Association on Friday approached the apex court seeking exemption from the Supreme Court’s rule banning sale of liquor along highways, Live Law reported.
After hearing the petition, the two-judge bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha issued notices to the state and central government.
In a writ petition, the Association of Toddy traders asked the country’s topmost court to direct the Kerala government to consider toddy differently from other forms of liquor, owing to its low degree of intoxication, amongst a total of 17 arguments.
The petitioners also argued that “traditionally” toddy is considered a “natural drink”.
Citing Section 3 of the Kerala Abkari Act 1902, the petitioners mentioned that toddy is defined differently from other forms of liquor.
The petitioners further pointed out that the state government in 2003 had exempted toddy while imposing a Dry Day by inserting a proviso to Rule 7(11) (vii) of the Kerala Abkari Shops Disposal Rules, 2002.
It was on December 15, 2016 that the apex court had ordered closure of liquor shops operating within 500 metres of state and national highways.
The direction to the states was to cease and desist from issuing licenses for such shops after March 31.
A three-judge-bench headed by then Chief Justice of India TS Thakur had ordered closure of liquor shops within 500 metres of national/state highways while hearing a PIL (public interest litigation) filed by NGO Arrive Safe.
The NGO had said that a majority of the 1.42 lakh deaths annually due to road accidents in the country, were due to drunk driving.