Thiruvananthapuram: The state government has approached the Supreme court seeking exemption of five-star hotels, beer & wine parlours and toddy shops from the purview of a recent order banning liquor shops within 500 metres of national and state highways. It further pleaded for exemption of toddy, beer and wine from the definition of liquor.
While the state's move invited criticism from anti-liquor activists, excise minister T. P. Ramakrishnan maintained that the government had only sought some clarifications on the December 15 judgment to shift liquor outlets. In the plea filed at the Supreme Court, the state also sought exemption of liquor outlets of Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) and Consumerfed on highways within the limits of municipalities and corporations from being shifted. While the Supreme Court had set April 1, 2017, as the deadline for shifting the outlets, the state has sought time till April 2018 citing difficulties in identifying the new spots.
Sources said the state government sought a clarification or modification that the December 15 order does not apply to liquor licences issued to 5-star hotels and beer and wine licences issued to non-five star hotels and restaurants. Denying reports that the state sought exemptions, Mr. Ramakrishnan told reporters in Kozhikode that taking into account various factors, it was impossible to implement the Supreme Court directive to shift liquor shops alongside the highways. The state required more time to effect the order, he said. He said the government was under tremendous pressure as there were protests against the shifting of outlets.