Karnataka HC refuses to direct State Excise Dept. to consider applications for renewal of licences of vendors having shops at National Highways

Karnataka High Court: While passing the order in a set of writ petitions filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India, a Single Judge Bench of Vineet Kothari, J. refused to interfere with the order passed by the respondent Union of India, refusing the request of the State Government to de-notify a part of NH-4 and NH-7 as National Highway in exercise of its power under Section 2 (3) of the National Highways Act, 1956.

The petitioners were holders of excise licences having their liquor vending shops at Brigade Road and M.G. Road which fall on NH-4 and NH-7. They were seeking the renewal of their licenses from the respondent Excise Department, Karnataka which was refused in view of the directions of the Suprem Court Court in State of Tamil Nadu v. K. Balu decided on 15.12.2016, as the shops fell within 500 meters from the edge of National Highways.

Learned counsels for the petitioners submitted that de facto, the above mentioned roads do not form parts of the National Highways therefore the restrictions of the Supreme Court do not apply to present case. They further contended that it was a bypass road and as such it was not necessary for the State Government to request the Central Government to de-notify such parts of the Highway.

The High Court after perused Sections 2 and 4 of the National Highways Act, 1956 and various decisions of different High Courts as cited by the parties; and it was of the opinion that the petitioners could not seek any Mandamus direction for consideration of their applications under the State Excise Act for renewal of their licenses as the directions in the above mentioned decision of the Apex Court specifically states that the State Highway or National Highway even passing through the urban limits or municipal limits will by covered by the restrictions.

The Court held that only the Central Government can either notify or de-notify the National Highways. The said M.G. Road and Brigade Road formed part of the National Highway and such State Government had no power to de-notify such parts. In view of the clear and binding restrictions imposed by the SC in above mentioned case, the High Court refused to issue directions to the State Excise Department to consider the applications of the petitioners for renewal of their excise licenses. Accordingly, the petitions were dismissed. [M/s. Siddi Enterprises v. State of Karnataka, Writ Petition Nos. 29751/2017 and 31818/2017, dated August 22, 2017]


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