The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the closure of all liquor shops along national and state highways across the country by April 2017, and said license of existing shops will not be renewed.
The bench also directed authorities to ensure strict compliance with its order.
The bench, led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur, directed the central and state governments to cease and desist from issuing liquor licenses and said that no new license should be issued to vendors located along the highways henceforth.
A deadline of April 1, 2017 was set for expiry of all existing licenses.
The court also said liquor shops must be at least 500 metres away from state and national highways, and ordered that liquor banners and ads be removed.
“We would not like any vend on national highways, state highways, advertisements, or signage about the availability of liquor shops. We will direct all highway authorities to remove all sign boards. It should be absolutely free from any distraction or attractions. It should not be visible. Visibility is the first temptation,” Justice Thakur said.
The orders have to be implemented by the chief secretaries of the state governments and police authorities, who were directed to draft a plan after speaking with the concerned excise and municipal heads.
The court also indicated that it would order shutting of all liquor vends on highways for the safety and security of commuters who get distracted after seeing the shops, causing accidents.
The bench was hearing petitions challenging various high court verdicts which held that liquor shops be located at a distance from state highways so that they are neither visible nor accessible to the commuters travelling along the highways.