New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the April 28 Madras High Court order directing closure of about 1,500 liquor shops run by TASMAC located near the municipal and panchayat areas of highways. Pursuant to this the district collectors closed the liquor shops concerned.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, however, asked the Tamil Nadu government to issue a fresh notification on location of liquor shops in terms of the relaxation order passed by the apex court in February 2018.
Counsel Thananjayan and counsel K Balu justified the High Court order and said the state government had completely violated the apex court order and permitted location of liquor shops near highways and these shops had now been closed.
The bench clarified that the state could issue fresh order in 10 days despite the High Court quashing the earlier order and posted the matter for further hearing during vacation on May 23.
Appearing for the state, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the government issued a circular to permit all FL1 to FL11 licensed establishments which are located within the limits of Municipal Corporations, Municipalities and Town Panchayats to function with immediate effect. This was done pursuant to the apex court order passed in July 2017 granting permission to the states to grant licences for location of liquor shops near the Municipal Corporation and panchayat limits passing through highways.
The SLP submitted that despite this clarification issued by the apex court, the High Court had quashed the order permitting renewal of licences for FL1 to FL11 establishments in the Municipal Areas in Tamil Nadu thereby impinging upon the Principle of parity as the other states permit establishment of liquor shops / bars in the Municipal Areas.
Rohatgi said the Supreme Court has allowed the state governments to use their discretion to ascertain whether a liquor shop can be permitted to be located within 500 meters of national/State highways passing through panchayats and municipal areas.
It must be noted that Rule 8 of Tamil Nadu Liquor Retail Vending (in Shops and Bars) Rules, 2003 makes it clear that no shop is to be established in Municipal Corporation and Municipalities within a distance of 50 meters from any place of worship or Educational Institution.
The rule further states in other areas liquor shops shall not be established 100 meters from any place of worship or educational institution. Thus, Tamil Nadu is conscious to the location for establishment of liquor shops, the SLP said and prayed for quashing the impugned order and an interim stay of its operation to enable the state to continue to run these shops.