New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked all the stake-holders to sit and decided on a "reasonable policy" on the location of liquor shops along the national and the state highways as it said that it did not favour people drinking travelling long distances.
"It is a social issue. We don't want anybody should lose. All should sit together and have a reasonable policy. We don't want people to drink while travelling," said a bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice S.A. Bobde.
Describing it as a "social issue" and presence of liquor vends on highway as an "allurement" for long distance travellers but at the same time, not wanting anyone including traders and the state to lose on its revenues, the court asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi facilitate a meeting of all stake holders to arrive at a "reasonable policy".
"Make a reasonable suggestion that is good for all. Remove it from the highways and take it at an appropriate place," the court told all the contesting parties.
Senior counsel K.K.Venugopal, appearing for one of the respondent states, challenged the central government's circular restricting liquor vends on the highways saying that it involved the constitutional issues as tax and excise are within the exclusive competence of the state legislature.
"If it is valid for national highways then it is very much valid for State highways," the court said as Tamil Nadu challenging the validity of the circular said that the central government had issued circular in respect of national highways and not for the state highways.
"You think and say (decide on reasonable police on location of liquor vends vis-a-vis highways) and we will affirm it," the court said as Venugopal said that exercise would take a long time to conclude.
As court asked Rohatgi to take initiative and convene a meeting for hammering a reasonable policy, it directed the next hearing of the matter on Feb 17.
The road safety cell of the union transport and highways ministry had issued a circular restricting the grant of licences for liquor vends on highways.