Nation

States can denotify National Highways in city limits: SC

July 04, 2017 09:18 PM
Supreme Court Of India

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New Delhi: States can denotify the National Highways if those roads fall within the city limit, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud refused to interfere with the Punjab government's move to denotify the National Highways.

The NGO had approached the Supreme Court after Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed its plea holding that the petitioner could not cite any law that has been violated in issuing the said notification.

The decision by the state was apparently an attempt to outwit the apex court's order banning liquor sale within 500 metres of such Highways. Several other states including Karnataka also mulled over the similar option.

“There is nothing wrong with denotifying highways if such roads are within a city. The purpose of its ban was to ensure high speeding vehicles on highways don't have drivers under the influence of liquor,” the bench said.

“There are no such issues when the roads are within the city. Denotifying such roads as Highways may have intelligible differentia,” the bench added.

The apex court made the observations while hearing a plea against decision of the Chandigarh administration to denotify certain roads allegedly with an aim to “circumvent” its verdict banning liquor vends within 500 metres from the state and National Highways.

The court, which refused to interfere with the decision at this stage, deferred the hearing to July 11.

The Chandigarh administration had on March 16 issued a notification denotifying 12 Highway stretches that passed through the city.

An NGO, Arrive Safe Society of Chandigarh contended that the administration issued the notification to bypass the apex court’s December 15, 2016 order banning liquor vends in National and State Highways.

The NGO had approached the Supreme Court after Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed its plea holding that the petitioner could not cite any law that has been violated in issuing the said notification.

The December verdict directed States and Union Territories to stop grant of licences to establishments located within 500 metres of national and State highways. April 1, 2017 was fixed as the date for phasing out existing liquor licences.

The clarification had run completely counter to a legal opinion given recently by former Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi to the Kerala government that the December 15 judgment's ambit was confined to only retail liquor outlets and not bigger establishments like bar-attached hotels and wine-beer parlours along highways in the State.

The ban had impacted livelihoods and raised practical issues, which challenged the court’s stand that the blanket prohibition was sourced by the judiciary’s “overarching concern for public health”.

The Tamil Nadu government had told the court that its “one-size-fits-for-all” approach would spell more harm than good.

"Ninety percent of the liquor vends are in the city and not in some god-forsaken place outside the city limits. State highways crisscross every small town and district headquarters in my State. Towns have developed rapidly. Small roads with shops on both sides form State highways due to the rapid rise in urbanisation," Tamil Nadu and Telangana governments had submitted.

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