Additional revenue of Rs 1,500 crore is likely to fatten the State exchequer as bars and restaurants on the Highways are on course to be operational by setting the law in right perspective.
According to an official of the TS Beverages Corporation, the State government is exploring the possibility of tweaking the inclusive definition of Highway as envisaged by the Supreme Court Committee headed by Justice K S Radha Krishna, which sought a total closure of bars and restaurants on the Highways to avoid accidents due to drunk driving. About 1,200 bars and restaurants were closed on the direction of the Supreme Court.
Aggrieved bar owners tapped the doors of the High Court seeking justice. The Advocate-General of the State is believed to have advised the government that Highways passing through the villages and municipal authority limits would not attract the definition of Highway as envisaged by the Supreme Court Committee. The Andhra Pradesh Abkari Act, 1968, whose major provisions are still adopted in Telangana State, defines the term Highway as not the one which traverses through the local limits of village and municipalities for the length of the course in the habitats.
Therefore, even though a Highway passes through a village or town, for the length of the course it traverses in the village, and municipal limits, such road is not considered as Highway. Keeping this ‘clarity’ in the Act, the Advocate-General appears to have suggested the State government to prevail upon the Union government to exempt villages and municipal areas for such course of Highway for the purposes of banning bars and restaurants on the Highway.
The Commissioner of Prohibition and Excise is likely to make a representation to the Chief Minister who, in turn, may take up the issue with the Central government. The other members of the Supreme Court Committee were S Sunder, former Surface Transport secretary, and Nisha Mittal, former chief scientist at the Delhi-based Central Road Research Institute.