Court cannot make laws: Markandey Katju condemns SC order banning alcohol on highways

Mohammed Uzair Shaikh
"Which is the law which says that no alcohol can be served in a bar, liquor shop, hotel, or restaurant within 500 m. of a national or state highway?" questioned Justice Katju.

New Delhi, April 4: Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju condemned the judiciary for banning the sale of alcohol within 500 metres vicinity on national highways. Describing it as an act of judicial overreach, Katju claimed that the courts have no rights to make laws, as it is the duty of the legislature. Katju urged the apex court to specify the law which grants them permission to enforce such a ban on restaurants, hotels and bars on national highways.

“We have broad separation of powers in the Indian Constitution. Making law is the job of the legislature, not the Courts. However, it is regrettable that Courts in India are legislating, the latest order being of the Supreme Court which barred restaurants, bars, hotels, liquor shop etc serving alcohol within 500 metres of a national or state highway,” Katju said.

“If there is a law, courts can certainly enforce it, but courts cannot make a law and seek to enforce it. Which is the law which says that no alcohol can be served in a bar, liquor shop, hotel, or restaurant within 500 metres of a national or state highway? As far as I know, there is none. This is a typical example of judicial overreach in violation of the Constitution,” he further added in his social media post.

Earlier in the day, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar stated that bar owners in Goa affected by the Supreme Court order would be provided dispensation by his government in the state.

The SC order has created major obstacles for restaurant and bars operating on tips of highways. The ban,which came into effect on April 1, had adversely impact their business operations. State governments have been instructed by the top court to enforce the ban in rigorous manner.