Liquor Ban on Highways: Read Supreme Court’s Recent Direction


February 23, 2018

Case name: The State of Tamil Nadu v. K. Balu & Ors.


Date of Judgment: February 23, 2018

In the instant case a batch of appeals were taken up by the Supreme Court for interpretation of Para 7 of Apex Court’s order dated July 11, 2017 in the said case. The relevant extract of Para 7 is reproduced below:

“7. The purpose of the directions contained in the order dated 15 December 2016 is to deal with the sale of liquor along and in proximity of highways properly understood, which provide connectivity between cities, towns and villages. The order does not prohibit licensed establishments within municipal areas. This clarification shall govern other municipal areas as well. We have considered it appropriate to issue this clarification to set at rest any ambiguity and to obviate repeated recourse to IAs, before the Court.”

In the case, it was submitted that the expression ‘municipal areas’ in the aforesaid paragraph was not intended to exclude areas within the jurisdiction of local self-governing bodies. Many of them, it is urged, may be developed in a manner similar to municipalities. Others, may be geographically proximate to an urban agglomeration. Hence it was urged that an appropriate direction may be issued to obviate uncertainties in application.

Bench’s Verdict

  • The Three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra stated that the state governments would not be precluded from determining whether the principle which has been laid down by this Court in the order dated 11 July 2017 should also apply to areas covered by local self-governing bodies and statutory development authorities.
  • That the state governments should be allowed to determine whether an area covered by a local self-governing body is proximate to a municipal agglomeration or is sufficiently developed as to warrant the application of the same principle.
  • That in deciding as to whether the principle which has been set down in the order dated 11 July 2017 should be extended to a local self-governing body (or statutory development authority) the state governments would take recourse to all relevant circumstances including the nature and extent of development in the area and the object underlying the direction prohibiting the sale of liquor on national and the state highways.
  • That the use of the expression ‘municipal areas’ in the order dated 11 July 2017 does not prevent the state governments from making that determination and from taking appropriate decisions consistent with the object of the orders passed by this Court.

The Supreme Court’s order can be accessed here.