High Court takes Karnataka, Centre to task over not denotifying Bengaluru roads
In focus: M.G. Road is part of the 77.64-km network of national highways passing through Bengaluru.
‘Liquor retailers caught between authorities to prove roads passing through city can’t be classified as NHs’
BENGALURU JULY 21 : The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday took both the State and Union governments to task for their “inaction” for years to carry out a mere “clerical job” of issuing a “formal” notification to denotify roads passing through Bengaluru city from the list of national highways (NHs) even though every authority admits that no NH passes through the city since the development of a bypass in the form of the Ring Road.
The court also observed that the plight of liquor vending shops, situated in the city’s upmarket localities, is that of a “shuttlecock” as they are caught between the State and the Central authorities to prove that roads passing through the city cannot fall under the classification of NHs.
Justice Vineet Kothari made these oral observations during the hearing of petitions filed by several liquor joints such as pubs, bars and restaurants situated in M.G. Road, Church Street, Richmond Town, Koramangala, St. Mark’s Road, Indiranagar, and other localities. “Inaction of both the governments has generated these litigations,” the court observed, THE HINDU reported.
The petitioners moved the court after the State Excise Department refused to renew their excise licence from July 1, 2017 claiming that they are situated within 500 metres of the 77.64-km network of NHs passing through M.G Road and surrounding localities, as neither the State or the Union government has formally denotified these roads from the network of NHs despite formation of the Ring Road, which acts as a bypass for national highways. The Supreme Court verdict had prohibited sale of liquor within 500 metres from NHs.
While counsel for the State pointed out that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in 2015 issued a communication stating that section of the NH which has been bypassed would cease to be the part of the NH network and would no longer vest with the government of India, but the responsibility of its future improvement and maintenance lies with the respective State governments. However, the State’s counsel said the NHAI had not built any bypass road for Bengaluru city but it was the State government which developed the Ring Road that acts as the bypass.
The State’s counsel also said that though city roads had lost the character of NH, they remain as NH till the Union government formally denotifies them, and pointed out that the State government on June 15, 2017 requested the Union government to denotify 77.64 km of city roads from the NH network.
While questioning the State why it had not asked the Centre to formally denotify the NH networks passing through the city soon after development of the Ring Road, the court also questioned why the Centre had not responded to the State’s request made in mid-June for denotifying the city’s 77.64 km roads from the NH network though every authority was aware these roads were no longer treated as NH.
The court adjourned further hearing till August 7 while asking the Centre to respond with necessary documents.EOM