Top court on liquor ban, it’s over to Siddaramaiah now

Bengaluru: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah could issue conditional licences to owners of bars in Bengaluru that will allow them to operate within 500 metres of national highways, following an observation made by the Supreme Court on Tuesday that there was "nothing wrong in the state government denotifying stretches of highways within city limits."

Mr Siddaramaiah, who also holds the excise portfolio, chaired a meeting of top officers alongside Bengaluru development minister K J George, to discuss implications of the apex court’s observation, and sought the opinion of the law department on whether the state government could formally file a plea before the court seeking some relief for sale of liquor within city limits.

Mr George told the media after the meeting, that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) had issued a circular identifying entry and exit points for highways which cut through cities like Bengaluru.  

And, as per this circular, the Outer Ring Road (ORR) was the entry and exit point for all highways which cut through the city.

“The NHAI Act itself identifies that by-pass roads that pass through the city can be considered as city roads. Thus, we are exploring possibilities on these lines to ensure that bars and pubs continue to serve liquor in the city,” Minister K.J. George added.

According to him, as many as 19 star hotels and nearly 340 pubs operate on MG Road and Brigade Road alone.  “As Bengaluru district in-charge minister, I am interested in safeguarding the interests of  both the common man (consumer) and businessmen too,” he added.

He said “The legal department, along with the excise department, PWD and Finance department will come out with proper line of arguments which can be placed before the Supreme Court during the hearing scheduled for July 11.”

In addition, PWD officials were directed to continue their efforts to persuade the National Surface Transport ministry to take up the issue of denotifying these stretches.

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