Chennai: Observing that there has been a significant increase in accidents due to drunken driving by drivers on national highways at present, the Madras high court has directed the state overnment to re-locate the existing liquor shops, which are being run by Tasmac along the national/state highways to the interior areas on or before March 31.
A division bench comprising acting chief justice R. K. Agrawal and Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar gave the directive while disposing of a PIL from advocate K. Balu.
Balu submitted that the Centre, taking note of the fact that fatal accidents occurred in every four minutes and road accidents in every minute and drunken driving has been attributed as one of leading causes for such accidents, had issued a communication dated December 1, 2011, for the removal of such shops along the highways.
Government advocate S. Muthuraj submitted that the shops functioning on national highways were not located on poromboke lands. However, action was being taken to shift the existing shops to the interior areas depending upon the availability of suitable buildings and sought six months to relocate the shops.
The bench said, “Be that as it may, the present scenario is that there has been a significant increase in accident due to drunken driving by drivers on national highways. Further, section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act prohibits drunken driving.
Hence, the authorities cannot delay the process of relocating the liquor shops which were being run along national/state highways. We are of the view, since the matter is pending before this court right from August 31, 2012, such a long time as prayed for by the counsel appearing for TASMAC cannot be granted. Considering all these facts, we direct the authorities concerned to relocate the existing liquor shops on national/state highways to the interior areas on or before March 31.“