In December last year, the SC had ordered that liquor vends located within 500 metres of state and national highways, should be closed down.
Chandigarh: The Punjab Assembly on Friday passed a bill to allow hotels, restaurants and other notified places near highways in the state to serve liquor. The restrictions on liquor vends operating within 500 meters of state and national highways will, however, remain in place as per the directions of the Supreme Court issued in December last year.
The Punjab Cabinet had Monday proposed to amend Section 26A of Punjab Excise Act 1914 to fix location vends on national and state highways, thus removing hotels, restaurants and clubs from the restrictions on serving liquor within 500 meters of these roads.
The Punjab Excise (Amendment) Bill was moved by parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra, and passed by the Assembly on the last day of its Budget Session. Tabling the bill, Mr Mohindra said: “Hotels, clubs and restaurants are part of the hospitality industry and generate thousands of jobs. Even their partial closure may create substantial unemployment in the state. It is possible to shift liquor vends but not hotels and clubs. Their closure can also impact the state’s future excise revenue. This amendment has been brought in view of the serious implications the ban can have on state revenue and jobs.”
The amendment inserted two clauses, 18A and 19A, to differentiate the sale of liquor from the supply of liquor. Clause 18A reads: “Sale of liquor means transfer of consideration by a liquor vend for consumption by a purchaser at a place other than the premises of the liquor vend.” Clause 19A of the amendment defines supply of liquor as: “Provision of liquor for consideration at clubs, restaurants, hotels and other places on the basis of licence that is issued on the condition that such liquor shall be consumed within the premises of such hotel, club, restaurant or notified place.”
In December last year, the Supreme Court had ordered that liquor vends located within 500 metres of state and national highways, should be closed down. Later, it had modified the order, reducing the distance to 220 metres in areas having a population of up to 20,000. However, the court had made it clear that its December 15, 2016 order banning such vends within 500 metres of highways shall remain operative in all other areas.