Brief facts of the Case-
These present petiton have arisen under Article 136 of the Constitution from the judgments of the High Courts at Madras and Punjab and Haryana respectively.
The issue which the Supreme Court is addressing in this case is about the presence of liquor vends on national and state highways across the country. The backdrop to the case is provided by alarming statistics on the occurrence of road accidents. They have claimed human lives and caused debility and injury. Both on a personal scale (in terms of the injuries and loss of life) as well as in a social context, restitution in the form of mandatory awards of compensation can never undo the trauma of loss and the pain of suffering. The law can only imperfectly alleviate the consequences of road accidents. In terms of personal suffering caused to individuals and families as well as in terms of deprivation caused to society of its productive social capital, road accidents impose unacceptable costs.
The Apex Court concluded that no licences for liquor shops should be allowed both on the national and state highways. Moreover, in order to ensure that this provision is not defeated by the adoption of subterfuge, it would be necessary to direct that no exception can be carved out for the grant of liquor licences in respect of those stretches of the national or state highways which pass through the limits of any municipality corporation, city, town or local authority. Necessary safeguards must be introduced to ensure that liquor vends are not visible or directly accessible from the highway within a stipulated distance of 500 metres form the outer edge of the highway, or from a service lane along the highway.
The Supreme Court further directed and orderd as follows-
(i) All states and union territories shall forthwith cease and desist from granting licences for the sale of liquor along national and state highways;
(ii) The prohibition contained in (i) above shall extend to and include stretches of such highways which fall within the limits of a municipal corporation, city, town or local authority;
(iii) The existing licences which have already been renewed prior to the date of this order shall continue until the term of the licence expires but no later than 1 April 2017;
(iv) All signages and advertisements of the availability of liquor shall be prohibited and existing ones removed forthwith both on national and state highways;
(v) No shop for the sale of liquor shall be (i) visible from a national or state highway; (ii) directly accessible from a national or state highway and (iii) situated within a distance of 500 metres of the outer edge of the national or state highway or of a service lane along the highway.
(vi) All States and Union territories are mandated to strictly enforce the above directions. The Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police shall within one month chalk out a plan for enforcement in consultation with the state revenue and home departments. Responsibility shall be assigned inter alia to District Collectors and Superintendents of Police and other competent authorities. Compliance shall be strictly monitored by calling for fortnightly reports on action taken.
(vii) These directions issue under Article 142 of the Constitution.
Decision- The Supreme Court by giving above mentioned directions disposed of the petition