Supreme Court exempts hilly areas of Uttarakhand from highway liquor ban

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed nine hill districts and seven tehsils falling in hilly areas of the state to open liquor shops on highways. A three- judge bench comprising chief justice J S Kehar, Justice YV Chandrachud and Jutice Nageshwar Rao granted the exemption following the state government’s plea of seeking parity with another hill state Sikkim where the norms had been relaxed by the court through an order dated March 31.

The districts which have been exempted are Champawat, Chamoli, Tehri, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh, Almora, Bageshwar and Rudraprayag. Three tehsils in Dehradun district – Chakrata, Tyuni and Kalsi – as well as four tehsils in Nainital district – Dhari, Nainital, Betalghat and Kosya Kutauli – have also been exempted from the ban.

Welcoming the court’s order, excise minister Prakash Pant said that post the SC exemption, liquor shops would be “opened at places on the highways where the locals have no objections.” “We would also be stringently following the court’s directions in the districts which have not been exempted,” Pant added.

Hilly regions of the state had been witnessing continued protests since the past few months as liquor shops had started opening in residential areas following the enforcement of the 500-metre direction. This was being objected to by locals especially women who had risen in protest.

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