The hospitality industry has lost more than 1000 crore worth of business after the ban on sale of liquor

The Supreme Court on Wednesday clarified that its ban on the sale of liquor within 500 m of state and national highways does not apply to licensed outlets that fall within municipal area.

This clarification will now enable beer and wine parlours and restaurants, which fall under municipality limits, to serve alcohol and apply for license renewal.

The bench, comprising of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justices DY Chandrachud and Nageswara Rao made the clarification while dismissing an appeal against the Judgement of Punjab and Haryana High Court which dismissed the challenge against Chandigarh administration on the ground that it circumvents the Supreme Court Judgement in K Balu Vs State of Tamil Nadu.

The Supreme Court had dismissed the petitions on July 11, but the order was posted on the Supreme Court’s website on Wednesday only.

“The purpose of the directions contained in the order dated 15 December 2016 is to deal with the sale of liquor along and in proximity of highways properly understood, which provide connectivity between cities, towns and villages. The order does not prohibit licensed establishments within municipal areas. This clarification shall govern other municipal areas as well. We have considered it appropriate to issue this clarification to set at rest any ambiguity,” the court said.

According to reports, the news of clarification will now clear all pending litigations in High Courts on this matter. The industry, with this order, expects 85% of the bars and restaurants to start business. “Now licenses will be renewed and in another two to four weeks the industry will settle down and get back to business,” said Riyaz Amlani, president of National Restaurant Association of India.

The Supreme Court on December 15, 2016, imposed a ban citing drunken driving a major cause after hearing a plea that claimed that nearly 1.42 lakh people died in the road accidents due to this reason. “Drunk driving is a potent cause of fatalities and injuries in road accidents. The Constitution preserves and protects the right to life as an over-arching Constitutional value,” the bench had said.

The top court had exempted the norms for states like Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim and places with populations less than 20,000.