The Supreme Court's order banning the liquor shops on the highways to curb drunken driving might have got a welcoming response from the general public but the state governments do not seem to be happy about it.
After Chandigarh, Punjab is keen to bend the apex court orders and find out 'loopholes' to help the liquor lobby and hoteliers, who are on the roads to justify the availability of alcohol to travellers on highways.
Commenting on the ban, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said, "I was in my constituency yesterday. It is an urban constituency and a municipal corporation. We have been getting representations from hotels and marriage palace owners saying this is an unfair order. The ban talks about 500 metres which means it is impossible for most of the hotels, banquets in Punjab to sell alcohol and they probably are all going out of business. There is no way we can challenge this order or circumvent this order. We can find loopholes in the order and take advantage but will comply with the order."
The finance minister added, "There are some practical problems with the ban. It means loss of jobs, loss of business and relocating."
"I am a victim of drunk driving. My wife suffered 12 bone injuries because of a drunk driver. So being a victim, I can empathise with the Supreme Court decision but at the same time, we need to think that some of big businesses have been affected," Manpreet Singh Badal said.
A number of business establishments have been affected after the liquor ban. After the order, marriage palaces, hotels, banquet halls, that come in that come in the 500 metres area have been hit.
CHANDIGARH ADMINISTRATION IN DOCK
The Chandigarh administration in a bid to save the liquor vends denotified under the Supreme Court's ban changed the nomenclature of these roads from highways to district roads.
The decision may not turn out to be good for the administration as petitioner Harman Singh Sidhu has decided to report the matter to the apex court. None of the Chandigarh Union Territory officials came on record to clarify whether the orders were withdrawn.
However, the excise department sources told India Today that the department has relocated nearly two dozen highway vends to avoid contempt of court. The officials, however, refused to comment on the loss the Union territory will bear after shifting the vends to other places.