Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala High Court (HC) has instructed the Excise Department to give permission to the closed licensed liquor shops along the NH 66 stretch from Cherthala to Thiruvananthapuram to start functioning.
The HC issued the order after accepting a petition submitted by the bar owners, who pointed out that the road from Cherthala to Thiruvananthapuram does not have National Highway status.
Following the HC verdict, the liquor shops at the 173-km-long road from Cherthala to Thiruvananthapuram will be reopened. The bar owners got the favourable decision based on the Central Government notification that the road on this stretch does not fall in the NH category. The Centre had dropped this stretch of the road from NH category on March 5, 2014 citing that the road lacks the prescribed official criteria.
When the Supreme Court ordered for the closure of liquor shops near State and National Highways, wine parlours, beer and bars were also closed. The bar owners contended in the HC that this decision was not justifiable, and hence the HC agreed to it.
The court also ordered the Excise to take necessary measures if licensed liquor shops apply for the reopening of their facility. In this context, owners of one bar and eight toddy shops in Alappuzha district have already approached the Excise for reopening the shops.
When the Cherthala-Thiruvananthapuram stretch will be upgraded to four-lane road, the Centre would give back it’s NH status. Till then, the liquor shops will not have any hurdles for functioning.