Supreme Court has understood our plight, say Karnataka bar owners

Bengaluru: Pub City Bengaluru may be able to hold on to its title, after all. The Supreme Court's observation on Tuesday that there was nothing wrong in the state government denotifying stretches of highways within city limits, has come as a shot in the arm for the 360 liquor stores and 18 pubs in the heart of the city, whose business was badly hit by its ban on sale of alcohol 500 meters from highways.

Responding to the court's observation, a deliriously happy Ashok Sadhwani, owner of The Pub World said, "This is excellent news and I am happy that the Supreme Court has understood our problems. It was a shock to know that the road passing through the city's central business district was a national highway."

To many Bengalureans, accustomed to hanging out at pubs on the weekends, the court's flexibility in the matter, came as a welcome surprise. "Our last weekend was spoiled due to the ban of the sale of liquor on MG Road. The court too has said that the ban was only to prevent people driving under the influence of alcohol on the highways. In the city such incidents do not take place," noted Mr Karthik Gowda, who works for a private tax company. 

Back from their vacation, college students were elated as well to find that the city's nightlife could be back on track soon. 

"I have been in Bengaluru for over three years and when the ban was enforced I was very upset.  I am very happy that I can chill out at my favourite hangouts again with my friends," said one student, Anshita Roy. Staff of  pubs, whose jobs were on the line following the ban that came into effect from July 1, are now overjoyed  because the threat to their livelihood appears to be lifting.

 Mr Sadhwani, who had  asked his staff to leave on July 1, agreed that lakhs of jobs could now be saved. "We will certainly call them back as soon as the state government denotifies the highways in the CBD," he promised.

While excise officials don't seem clear yet about the Supreme Court's observations,   the pub managing department believes it will take 10 days or more for things to fall in place as the court hearing has been deferred by a week. 

"The application for renewal of our licence is already ready. But the court has still to gives its final order, after which I believe the excise officials will allow the pubs and bars in the CBD to function," said Mr Srinivas of the Pecos Pub and bar.

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