The closure of liquor shops and bars located within a 500-metre radius of schools, colleges, hospitals and other institutions has been ordered by the Guwahati High Court in Assam.
The directive by Justice Ujjal Bhuyan came on a petition filed by Arun Pathak, who challenged an order passed by the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup (Metropolitan) directing temporary closure of his bar following a public complaint.
As per the Assam Excise Rules, 1945 (143) 2B, no liquor shops or bars should be permitted within a distance of 500 meters from religious places, healthcare centres, educational institutions or similar buildings as far as possible. Yet, a section of Kamrup district excise officials, under political pressure, or for the lure of money have flouted this rule and granted permission to open liquor shops in the vicinity.
"The Guwahati High Court has directed the closure of all bars and wine shops, which are located within 500 metres of schools, colleges, nursery homes, hospitals, courts, tribunals and other similar buildings or institutions. This direction was passed by the Guwahati High Court, in view of Section 183, sub rule 2 of the Assam Excise rule, which prohibits establishment of such bars and wine shops within close proximity of this institution and this decision has been fixed by an amendment made in the year 2005," said Bhaskar Dev Konwar, an advocate.
According to excise department sources, almost 80 per cent of wine shops, bars, clubs and lounges in Guwahati will be closed down.
As per the department records, there are 303 wine shops in Guwahati, 128 bars, 13 clubs, 7 beer bars, 4 beer shops, 16 liquor bottling plants, 20 bonded warehouses and 10 country liquor plants.
The court directed the deputy commissioner to furnish names of all the persons, who gave licenses to these liquor shops and bars.
Residents have welcomed the court's decision, saying women will feel more secure in the city.
The wine shops and bars will remain closed till the next hearing of the matter in court on August 25.