Arunachal, Andaman NHs off SC’s booze ban map

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday added Arunachal Pradesh to the list of states exempted from closing down liquor vends in the vicinity of highways, a direction given to curb fatal accidents because of drunken driving. Arunachal Pradesh counsel Rajiv Datta pleaded with a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L N Rao that the SC ban on highway liquor vends would spell doom for the state's revenue collection. "There are 1,011 liquor vends in total in the state of which implementation of SC order would warrant closure of 960. Arunachal does not have many state highways. Almost all the roads are national highways which are built with central funding. The state's total revenue generation is Rs 441.61 crore of which liquor vends contribute almost 50% at Rs 210 crore," Datta said. The bench agreed to exempt Arunachal Pradesh from closure of liquor vends on highways as it had done in the case of Sikkim and Mizoram. Uttarakhand, through additional advocate general Mukesh Giri, tried to get similar advantage for itself. Giri said nine out of the 13 districts in the state were hilly and the only major road passing through these districts were either national or state highways.
 Giri also said of the 532 liquor vends in the state, 255 abutted national highways and 155 were closed, causing a severe strain on the state's revenue. But the bench said the state must provide additional data if it wanted to convince the court for exemption which was granted to other hilly states.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands pleaded that it had very few liquor vends but most of it faced closure as they were operating near highways, the only link between capital city Port Blair and other towns. The SC exempted the Union Territory from the rigour of its order.
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