States divided on political lines
The ideological differences among political parties have cropped up as a major roadblock among the states to take a united call on seeking a relook at the Supreme Court's verdict banning liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways.
The apex court order passed last week also recorded that eight states, which are ruled by parties other than the BJP, had rushed to it for modification of the December 15, 2016 verdict.
The states which had approached the apex court for modification of its verdict were Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Sikkim, Telangana, Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh. Besides, the union territory of Puducherry has also sought changes in the judgement.
Later, Andhra Pradesh withdrew its application saying the state government has accepted the last year's judgement. Eighteen states have preferred not to file any application against the verdict.
While the Centre through senior advocates Ajit Kumar Sinha and AK Panda had "unequivocally" asserted that the union government stands by the judgment rendered by this court on December 15, 2016, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Tamil Nadu government, had assailed the directives for doing away with vends along 500 metre radius of national and state highways.
"The judgment rendered by this court has transgressed the limitations on the constitutional power conferred by Article 142," Rohatgi had said. Various contentions for modification of the order raised by the Attorney General were not agreed to by a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar which said that "the error, in the submission of the Attorney General, lies in comparing national and state highways".
"Moreover, it is urged that even if the prohibitions were to apply to both national and state highways, an exemption ought to be provided for the location of liquor shops in municipal areas through which the state highways traverse," the bench noted, adding, "Alternately, it was urged that a smaller prohibition in terms of distance would be appropriate in relation to state highways. The Attorney General has confined his submission to the state highways only."