In a relief to Arunachal Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Supreme Court on Wednesday relaxed the 500 metre cap on liquor vends across the national and state highways there.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar relaxed the cap while noting that almost 50 per cent of the state revenue for Arunachal Pradesh came from the sale of liquor and 916 shops out of a total of 1011 shops have been affected by the 500 metre cap.
The counsel appearing for Arunachal Pradesh said that 80 per cent of the state was covered by forests and, out of a total revenue of Rs 441.61 crore, Rs 210 crore came from liquor sale.
"The counsel appearing for Arunachal Pradesh states that the terrain in the state is similar to that of states of Sikkim and Meghalaya and, accordingly, state of Arunachal Pradesh deserves parity given to Sikkim and Meghalaya in the order passed by this court on March 31. The prayer is allowed," the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L N Rao, said.
Similarly, the bench also allowed the prayer of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and relaxed the 500 metre cap as per its March 31 order.
The apex court had on March 31 said that liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways will have to shut down from April 1, but had exempted the hill states of Sikkim, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh and areas having population up to 20,000.
The apex court also dealt with a similar plea of Uttarakhand which is also seeking the relaxation from the cap.
However, the counsel for Uttarakhand could not furnish the data on the revenue loss and was asked to furnish details.
"You provide us the data. We will give you time. We are not agreeable at this stage. You provide the data first," the bench said and posted the matter for hearing next week.
A similar petition filed by Kerala also came up for hearing before the bench but the counsel appearing for the state said he would amend the application.