Worried over rising deaths caused by drunken driving, Supreme Court recently appointed a panel on road safety in the chairmanship of retired judge KS Radhakrishnan. The panel has recommended ban on sale of alcohol on all national and state highways to curb cases of road accidents in which nearly 1.5 lakh die every year in the country.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday hinted it is determined to enforce a total ban on liquor shops along national highways but only after elaborate discussions and consultations with all the stakeholders like state excise commissioners, revenue officials and also alcohol shop owners.
The court had in May 2013 first asked the national highways ministry to draft a policy asking states to close shops along the national highways.
After Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Centre, explained the draft policy on banning liquor shops along highways, the bench directed excise commissioners of all states to hold a meeting in Delhi to discuss the feasibility of the Centre’s plans and come back to court after two months.
They have been given liberty to find fault with the policy if any and also make their suggestions which shall be considered. Rohatgi told the court that as per the policy no liquor outlets will be allowed within the periphery of 220 metres of the highway and also at places clearly visible from the highway. He said municipal areas will be exempted from the ban as it involved revenue issues.
With one death reported every 4 minutes, India has a distinction of having highest number of road accident related deaths in the whole world.