SC Recalls 2023 Decision on Relocation of Liquor Shop Away From Temple, Mosque, Educational Institutions

The Supreme Court on Monday recalled its 2023 decision ordering relocation of a liquor shop in Puducherry to an area beyond 500 metres from a temple, mosque or an educational institution, saying that local municipal laws will also apply to deal with wine shops.

Earlier, the top court in 2016 had come out with a significant verdict in a case titled State of Tamil Nadu Vs K Balu holding that no liquor shops will be permitted within 500 metres of national and state highways to prohibit drunken driving and road mishaps.

Later, the decision was modified and liquor vends were permitted at a distance of 220 metres from national and state highways if the area is a municipal area with a minimum population of 20,000.

It was also held that besides the apex court judgement, the state government will be free to frame a policy on setting up of liquor shops keeping in mind the local municipal laws and regulations.

However, a Supreme Court bench on March 20, 2023 ordered relocation of a liquor shop beyond 500 metres in Puducherry while relying on the 2016 judgement.

It did not notice the subsequent modifications made by the apex court in the judgement.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra on Monday took note of the submissions of Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the Union Territory (UT) of Puducherry, that the order was passed erroneously and needed to be recalled.

Recalling the order, the top court restored the cases related to relocation of the liquor shop in the UT on the records of the Madras High Court for fresh adjudication.

The bench also noted that the facts in the present case pertained to municipal laws and overlooked the subsequent clarification issued by the court with regard to the Tamil nadu case.

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