Confusion around SC directives: Manipal’s closed bars to reopen?
MANIPAL : With effect from the month of July, most bars in the student town were obliged to shut down in compliance with the Supreme Court (SC) verdict of December 15, 2016 and since their yearly liquor license expired in June.
The SC had passed a verdict on December 15, 2016 that ordered a ban on all liquor shops operating within 500 meters of national and state highways with effect from April 1, 2017 wherein the SC also directed the state governments to not renew the licenses of such liquor vendors post-March 31. The bars in Manipal were earlier uncertain of their fate until it was time to renew their licenses and had insisted on remaining functional post-March 31, 2017.
But their fate was made certain last month when they realized that there was indeed no scope for bars to renew their license within the purview of the above verdict, hence forcing bars like DeeTee, Zeal, Hakuna Matata, Zero Degrees, Café 18, OB, Hideout, Pitstop etc. to shut shop.
Re-opening a possibility?
Yet again, the future of these bars remains uncertain with the SC recently opening up an option for state administrations to de-notify particular stretches of highways running inside city limits as city roads, thus allowing re-opening. The SC clarified that the purpose of the ban was to prevent drunken driving on high-speed highways interlinking places, while traffic within city limits is usually slow and heavy and stretches de-notified would fall within city limits ceasing to act as highways.
Roopa M, Excise DC (Udupi District) said, “Udupi comes under City Municipal Corporation but the state government has to take a stand and communicate the same to us, until which the bars have to shift location to restart the business.”
“No concrete information has been given to the bar owners yet. The excise people have no information and everyone is in a dilemma. Owners here are not clear regarding the terms of the de-notification or even if they will be eligible to reopen after the same,” said Sunil Shetty, the owner of Cocks ‘n’ Mocks, now one of the few bars still in business as it met the terms of the initial verdict.
“I have heard that the proposal will include stretches between Malpe and Udupi, within Udupi and between Udupi and Manipal,” said Shiv Prasad Shetty, Managing Director, Thallore Group of Hotels. “Once the proposal is approved, we’ll apply for renewal of our liquor license and restart our business. Lots of people work at my establishments, earlier we were planning to relocate so that none of them would lose their jobs.” Thallore Group had to shut down 6 of its 9 ventures due to the SC order including Hakuna Matata, out of which now 5 can be revived once the proposal gets the green signal. Zeal – The Rooftop Bar is also awaiting instructions so as to start functioning again shortly.
The SC recently approved Chandigarh’s move to reclassify certain stretches of its highways to allow liquor shops to reopen, opening up a channel for other States to pursue a similar move in order to revive shut liquor establishments. But with the lack of strong guidelines and various interests coming into play, only a direct notification from the state government can rest the rumors running strife.
Featured Image courtesy: Mahalakshmi R
Edited by: Soumyajit Saha