Current Affairs Current Affairs - 27 February 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 27 February 2018

General Affairs 

Srinagar : 115 Kashmiri youths inducted into Indian Army
  • One hundred and fifteen Kashmiri youths were inducted into the Indian Army at the passing out parade held in Srinagar today.

    After a year's hard training, a total of 219 youths, including those from Kashmir, were enthused and happy to be part of the army.

    The family members of the new soldiers also attended the passing out parade that was held in Srinagar.

    Hundreds of youths were inducted into the Indian Army on Monday
    Brigadier Suresh Chowhan, who is the commander of the JKLI Regiment Centre, spoke of the role of the JKLI in the different wars fought during the past 50 years by India.

    Lt Gen AK Bhat, core commander of the 15 Corp, was the chief guest at the passing out parade.

    The induction comes in the backdrop of the miltant attack in the Sunjwan base camp in Jammu earlier this month in which five soldiers and a civilian were killed.

After JeM attack, NIA team in Sunjwan Army camp to reconstruct scene of crime
  • A team composed of a dozen investigators from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) reached Jammu on Monday to reconstruct the scene of the dastardly terror attack perpetrated by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) on the Sunjuwan Army camp.

    The team had earlier travelled to the Sunjuwan camp when the fidayeen attack was still underway. They were given limited access, even as operations continued.

    They'll investigate the conspiracy - from the moment when the terrorists crossed the Line of Control - and seek to find out how they entered the camp.

    The NIA is already probing the Uri, Handwara and Nagrota terrorist attacks, although chargesheets haven't been filed in these cases.

    "We have sent our best team to probe the Sunjuwan attack," YC Modi, the NIA DG, told India Today. "It is a fairly large team which will investigate minutely details of the case."

    The NIA team will also access the intercept of the Jammu and Kashmir Police which nails the conspiracy from across the border, sources said.

    Three terrorists wearing army combat uniforms attacked the Sunjawan Army camp. They were killed after an encounter which lasted more than 36 hours.

    As many as six Indian Army soldiers and one civilian were killed. Eleven people, including women and children, were injured.

Lost in translation: Maharashtra government left red faced after failure in arranging translator
  • A casual approach by the administrative machinery in arranging a translator to translate Maharashtra Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao's English speech in Marathi caused a huge embarrassment to the state government on Monday, the first day of budget session of the state legislature.

    As several paragraphs of the speech could not be translated the Opposition charged the government with neglecting the state language.

    The incident assumed significance as it take place a day before the state celebrated the annual 'Marathi Bhasha Din'.

    Taking a serious note of the lapse Rao has asked Legislative Council Chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and Legislative Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagde to take serious note of the incident and punish those who are responsible for the lapse.

    The standard practice over the years has been that when the Governor begins delivering his address to the joint session of the state legislature, a Marathi translator translates his speech which the legislators get to hear through the earphones available at their desk. Soon after Rao began his address at 11 am the legislators and the government noticed that the Marathi translation was not available.

    Sensing what has gone wrong Education Minister Vinod Tawde rushed to the translator's room and started translating Rao's speech simultaneously after a few paragraphs. By that time the Opposition had boycotted the Governor's address irked at not being able to hear the speech in Marathi. Later, they staged a noisy protest in the Vidhan Bhavan premises.

    Tawde disclosed that the regular translator Pradeep Bhide was not available due to ill health. Hence Shriram Kelkar from All India Radio (AIR) was summoned and he did arrive at Vidhan Bhavan around 10.40 am just before time for the Governor's address. Just by then the movement started before the Governor's arrival and hence Kelkar was taken around in altogether different direction.

    He was taken to the reading room of the Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) on the ground floor, instead of the fifth floor. So he missed the translation work.

    Leaders of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Dhananjay Munde claimed that they heard some words in Gujarati. The government has discarded their claim as there was no translation of the speech at all.

    In an attempt to damage control Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis apologised for the incident and assured that it will not happen again.

    "This is a serious issue that a minister had to do a job of reading and translating the speech. The issue comes under the purview of the speaker so the action should be taken against those responsible."

    In a strongly worded letter to the presiding officers Rao stated, "It was observed that the Marathi translation of my speech was not taking place. I am of the view that it needs to be considered with utmost seriousness and a strong action needs to be taken against those responsible for this serious lapse. I request you to kindly take appropriate action and inform me about the same."

Social engineering is the new weapon in Sangh's arsenal for 2019 elections
  • With the 2019 Lok Sabha elections closing in, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is making all efforts to ensure that Narendra Modi gets re-elected as India's Prime Minister.

    The latest weapon in the Sangh's arsenal to achieve this goal is 'Social Engineering', which the RSS plans to use on a large scale for the elections.

    The first glimpse of this strategy was visible on the dais of the 'Samrasta Sangam' organized by the Sangh in Agra last week, where Dalit characters from the Indian mythology like Shabri, Gautam Buddha, and Maharishi Valmiki were prominently displayed.

    Dalit saints like Kabir and Ravidas were also displayed alongside the mythological characters. The Modi government's slogan 'Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas' was painted everywhere on hoardings and being shouted from the dais.

    According to the information India Today has access to, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat himself is overseeing the Sangh's activities in Uttar Pradesh.

    The 'Samrasta Sangam' held in Agra was the second such event, with the first one being held in Varanasi and the next one scheduled to be held in Meerut.

    RSS workers line up for a formation
    Since Agra is a major Dalit stronghold, the BSP chief Mayawati also begins her electoral campaigns from this city.

    Although the RSS frequently holds its meets in Agra, this time the scene was completely different and a banner hung under the dais proclaimed, "Samras Jeevan Se Hi Tootegi Bhedbhav Ki Dhara, Iss Se Hi Ekatm Hua Hai Saara Rashtra Hamara," which loosely translates as "the stream of casteism will only break with harmonious living, which will bind the whole nation together".

    Also read: RSS in rural India will be key to Narendra Modi's victory in 2019, says Mohan Bhagwat

    Women, especially those belonging to the Dalit community, were specially invited to the meet and were personally asked by the Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat to understand the Sangh's working and ideology from up-close.

    A lot of former SP/BSP workers and leaders were also seen at the meet, many of whom had worn the RSS uniform for the first time in their life, expressing their fealty to the Sangh's leaders and ideology.

    A former mayor of Agra, Anjula Mahore, who had joined the Samajwadi Party for some time, told India Today that the Sangh teaches the ideas of sacrifice and service to the entire humanity and is like a school that imparts the lesson of living for the country to every citizen.

    Babyrani Maurya, another former mayor of Agra, said that it is very important to understand the Sangh and its working before making any opinions about it.

Mahadayi issue comes up as Rahul Gandhi and Amit Shah tour Karnantaka
  • Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah took five farmer leaders to meet Congress President Rahul Gandhi even while BJP President Amit Shah for the first time promised a solution to the dispute.

    With Congress President Rahul Gandhi touring Bagalkote, Belagavi and Dharwad, farmers in large numbers began a hunger strike on Sunday demanding water be released from the Mahadayi to solve their drinking as well as irrigation needs.

    Many of them spent the night out in the open till officials came and met them with some sort of answers.

    On Monday morning, with things getting out of control, the police detained many of the protesting farmers that also included a number of women.

    This did not stop them and they continued to raise slogans demanding justice for the people in the districts who are being affected due to non-release of the Mahadayi waters.

    But to assuage these farmers who were defiant and not willing to stop protesting, CM Siddaramaiah who is accompanying Rahul Gandhi on his campaign tour met and spoke to them for a while. In fact, he even sat along with them and patiently heard their pleas.

    Then it was decided that five representatives would meet Rahul Gandhi and directly speak with him. One of the farmer leaders told India Today that, "We five have met Rahul Gandhi and will hold a press conference on what he told us."

    BJP national president Amit Shah who is also touring districts in North Karnataka on Monday said in Kalaburagi that the BJP would solve the Mahadayi dispute once it comes to power in the state.

    At a press conference, Amit Shah said that it is difficult to solve the issue when different parties are ruling in Karnataka and Goa.

    Karnataka for long has been demanding that it could utilize 7.56 tmcft of water from the Mahadayi for drinking purposes. This would ease the drinking water situation in Hubballi, Dharwad, Gadag, Bagalkote and Belagavi districts. The case is being heard by the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal.

Business Affairs

CBDT goes all out to meet the hiked direct tax collection target of over Rs 10 lakh crore
  • Rs 10.05 lakh crore. That's the collection target that the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is gunning for this fiscal. To remind you, in Budget 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had revised the target for direct tax collection - which includes personal income tax and corporate tax - for 2017-18 to this figure, up from the budgeted Rs 9.80 lakh crore. So the CBDT has asked its field officers to step up efforts and focus more on better performing zones.

    "We are looking at better advance tax collection for January-March quarter. If the trend of October-December quarter continues, we will be able to achieve the landmark Rs 10 lakh crore target," said an official. Actually, according to a statement issued by the CBDT last month, this entire financial year has thus far been promising on this front. The growth rate of total net direct tax collections has climbed up from 14.8 per cent in the April-June quarter to 15.8 per cent in Q2, then 18.2 per cent in Q3. In fact, the government has already raked in Rs 6.95 lakh crore in the April-January period, which is 69.2 per cent of the revised target.

    According to Deloitte India Senior Director Sanjay Kumar, usually 25 per cent collections for the fiscal come in the March quarter. "It is quite regular that in the last quarter, refunds are issued quite sluggishly. All these would contribute to augmenting the tax collections and so, there is a good chance that even the higher revenue target would be achieved," he added. In comparison, the government had collected Rs 8.49 lakh crore as direct taxes in the last fiscal (2016-17).

    According to the official, the focus areas of the department for stepping up tax collection will be to follow up with entities that are currently giving taxes on the basis of self-assessment. "We will check if the tax assessment matches the income profile," he explained, adding that refunds will also be closely monitored. Not only is demonetisation data being scrutinised to check whether some taxes can be recovered in current fiscal itself based on the tax returns filed, but tax officials have also been advised to ensure that Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) is duly deposited to the central exchequer and to follow up on arrears. That apart, "higher targets" have been set for zones which are on track to achieve their initial target.

    This frenetic pace being set by the CBDT is understandable in light of the much-talked about fiscal slippage this year - the government is likely to breach the fiscal deficit target by 300 basis points (bps), from 3.2% to 3.5% of the GDP. Jaitley has repeatedly said that a key reason for this slippage is that they have accounted for only 11-month of GST against 12-month of expenses. "In the old regime, you would get paid the tax in same month the liability is accrued, but in GST you get paid only by 20th of the next month. So in the current fiscal, the March GST would only come in April. Therefore, we have accounted only for 11-month of GST," he said at a FICCI event earlier this month, adding that if we account for the Rs 36,000 crore additional revenue from one month of GST, it would cover a significant portion of the 300 bps slippage.

    If that's true then meeting the revised direct tax collection target will help bridge the gap and give the government some breathing room.

E-way bill's failure has led to chaos as states come out with their own rules
  • Harpreet Singh, Partner, Indirect Taxes, KPMG India, was on a post-Budget panel at a TV channel after the finance minister's Budget speech on February 1. But his phone kept ringing as clients - some of them large FMCG companies - told him that the e-way bill portal had stopped working and they could not generate the electronic receipt that the trucks with goods were supposed to carry. Businesses were clueless for hours as their trucks remained stuck in the absence of e-way bill receipts. An e-way bill is an electronic receipt under the goods and services tax (GST) regime for movement of goods, both inter- and intra-state. It is an anti-avoidance mechanism under which no goods worth more than `50,000 can be transported outside or within (beyond 10 km) the state without this electronically generated bill. Though e-way bill on inter-state transfer of goods was made mandatory from February 1, 16 states, owing to falling GST collections, announced its implementation for movement of goods within the state too.

    However, on D-day, all came crashing down, as the e-way bill website, maintained by National Informatics Centre, faced glitches. The portal stopped working due to overload.

    The Chaos After

    According to GST consultants and transporters, with no immediate resolution in sight, most movement of goods, in some cases even within the states, came to a halt for a few hours on February 1.

    Rajat Mohan, Partner, AMRG & Associates, says that even as the website stopped working, it was only late at night that the government announced, through a tweet, that the measure had been deferred. "However, there is no legal sanctity of a tweet. The notification came only on February 2, putting brakes on movement of goods on the first day."

    Giving an example of the problems faced by many, he says a few quick-service restaurants have a centralised kitchen from where they supply food items (mostly perishables) to different branches. "Since the movement of goods was put on hold, these food items could not be sent to the restaurants on time," he says. Jubilant Foodworks, the owner of quick-service restaurant Dominos, refused to speak on the matter.

    Explaining the reason for the glitches, J.P. Singla, Chief Executive, All India Transporters Welfare Association, says: "Those who were making the rules must have estimated daily e-way bill generation on the basis of the number of trucks that ply daily. However, it seems they were unaware that each truck has 200-300 invoices. Hence, the traffic for the e-way bill generation may have far exceeded their estimate." Some transporters say they had to carry screenshot prints of the reported errors on the portal.

    But the deferment has not ended the troubles of industry. The chaos has probably just begun.

    In Fluid State

    With the central government washing its hands of the mess by postponing the e-way bill indefinitely, each state issued notification for implementation of the e-way bill or any other system that it had before that. After the central government notification, a few states such as Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan issued circulars/directions/tweets that they would continue with existing procedure (as applicable before 1 Feb 2018) for inter-state movement of goods. Now, industry is facing a problem in keeping track of the notifications issued by each state and the different dates and goods on which way-bill would be applicable. For example, on February 5, Rajasthan came out with a circular that in view of the postponement of the national e-way bill, the state would revert to its earlier regime according to which inter-state movement of 33 commodities required way-bills. Gujarat came out with a notification on February 1 saying that the way-bill for intra-state transfer of goods had been suspended till 20 February. "It has become challenging for industry to keep track of state-wise statutory requirements with respect to generation of e-way bill," says Singh of KPMG India.

    Tax experts say many of these notifications are not even updated on websites for days, leaving industry and tax consultants in dark about the changes. Rajat Mohan of AMRG & Associates says, "The national e-way bill was brought in to unify the process, but now we are back to the same chaotic situation of each state going its own way."

    With a national e-waybill, one could have generated the way-bill from a single website, but now with each state going its own way, one has to generate it by going on the website of each state. Besides, each state has a different threshold for requirement of way-bill. M.S. Mani, Senior Director, Indirect Taxes, Deloitte India, says all processes under GST were uniform across states and e-way bill was the first instance of state-wise differentiation and businesses did not like it.

    Till the GST Council, which takes all GST-related decisions, comes out with the new national e-way bill date, the ensuing chaos and confusion may further unsettle many businesses already struggling to cope with the frequent changes in GST.

IBC in tangle: Rival bidders take legal routes to put spanner in process
  • Finding resolution in bankrupt companies through insolvency proceedings is becoming murkier after the estranged promoters and the rivaling bidders take the legal routes to put spanner in the process. When the UK-based Liberty House questioned the rejection of its bid for Bhushan Power and Steel, the promoter holding firm of Binani Cement challenged the liquidation value set by Interim Resolution Professional (IRP). Videocon Industries challenged the lender's move to invoke insolvency proceedings in the company.

    It was in mid-June last year that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) first told the banks to file cases against 12 big loan defaulters in a month's time. When the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) directs to find a resolution within 180 to 270 days, the time flies off without giving any hint of settlement in any of the big firms. In August, the RBI had directed banks to either resolve another 28 large stressed accounts or refer them to the NCLT by December 31. About 24 companies from the second list have already been taken to NCLT, say lawyers. According to RBI, the bad loans in the banking system come to Rs 8-lakh crore.

    According to experts, the contentious issues are qualification of bidders, submission of bids after the deadline and selection of highest bidder. "The interpretation of the IBC leads to confusions when the law applies differently to different defaulters. The resolution is essentially about finding the right value and the right bidder. But there are many loopholes in IBC that can lead to further litigations," says a senior lawyer. The selection of highest bidder is mostly counted at three fronts - debt takeover, capital infusion and equity stake offered to the lenders. It is the committee of creditors (CoC) that evaluates the bid and select the highest bidder. In this case, there is a possibility that the creditors may differ in selection since criteria are varied, say experts.

    Binani Industries, the holding company of bankrupt Binani Cement, approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) last week, seeking permission to participate in the sale process of the cement subsidiary. It also alleged that the IRP undervalued the company at Rs 6,300 crore, against its valuation of Rs 17,300 crore, reports say. Earlier, Videocon Industries had moved the Bombay High Court against challenging the lender's move to invoke insolvency proceedings in the company. The company argues it took steps, including sales of assets, to repay its loans but bank ignored all its actions.

    The UK-based Liberty House plans to approach NCLT claiming that their bid for Bhushan Power is superior to that of Tata Steel. The reports say that committee of creditors (COC) rejected its bid because of the late submission. However, JSW Group failed to get the nod for taking over the real estate assets of Jaypee Infratech despite emerging as the highest bidder. The IRP called for second round of bids in Jaypee.

    Renaissance Steel, one of the resolution applicants in Electrosteel, raised formal objections regarding the eligibility of other bidders Tata Steel and Vedanta. The reports say that Renaissance asked the CoC to disqualify the rivals under Section 29A (d) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) because their overseas subsidiaries have been convicted.

    The eligibility of bidders - ArcelorMittal and Numetal Mauritius - is the contentious issue in Essar Steel. ArcelorMittal had stake in another bankrupt company Uttam Galva Steel, while Rewant Ruia, one of the estranged promoters of Essar Steel, holds stake in Numetal. IRP had appointed Grand Thornton to evaluate the bids based on the financial and eligibility criteria. The media reported that ArcelorMittal chairman Laxmi Mittal met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley regarding the ongoing insolvency process of the debt-ridden Essar Steel amid speculations that bids by both the company may get cancelled. Another report said that Mittal is largest bidder of Essar Steel.

    For Amtek Auto, the binding bids from Deccan Value and Liberty House were below liquidation value in the first round. The lenders later asked both the bidders to improve the offer before deciding on liquidation of the company. The latest reports say that Deccan Value offered almost on par with the liquidation value and emerged as the highest bidder.

    The clarity on final resolution is yet to come in most of the cases. As the extended date of 270 days is nearing at least in the first 12 cases, the question is will the companies taken to liquation amidst litigations.

Bharti Airtel forms an alliance for in-flight connectivity
  • As in-flight entertainment stages a vanishing act, domestic travellers may soon have a better option. The largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel has formed an alliance - Seamless Alliance - with OneWeb (Softbank-backed satellite start-up), Airbus (US-based airline), Delta (US-based airline), GoGo (in-flight broadband provider) and Sprint (US-based telecom operator) to offer in-flight connectivity. The alliance has members from three sections - in-flight broadband providers, telecom operators and aircraft manufacturers.

    The global alliance, formed in Barcelona, will provide high-speed, low-latency connectivity seamlessly from the moment a passenger boards the aircraft till its landing. The pricing of the services that are going to be offered by the alliance is not decided yet, its objective is to add more partners. "The global alliance members will eliminate the immense costs and hurdles commonly associated with acquisition, installation, and operation of data access infrastructure, increasing accessibility for passengers and enabling simple and integrated billing," says the official release from Airtel.

    At the moment, in-flight connectivity is provided by specialized operators - Inmarsat and Viasat - who operate in various countries. Inmarsat, for instance, charges airlines for providing in-flight broadband. Airlines, in turn, charge premium from the passengers to offer mobile communications in the air.

    Even though the alliance is global, it's safe to say that Airtel is prepping up for the impending in-flight regulations in India that's going to allow passengers to make calls and surf internet during the flight. In a 2016 survey, Inmarsat found that 83 per cent passengers prefer to fly with airlines offering in-flight connectivity and some 55 per cent of all in-flight connectivity users have connected more than one device to in-flight Wi-Fi.

    Some 30 carriers across the globe allow mobile phone use on aircraft. These include AirAsia, Air France, British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic. There are various bands to provide mobile communications services through satellite, including Ka, Ku and L bands.

    Last month telecom regulator TRAI issued recommendations on in-flight connectivity for voice, data and video services for flights - international, domestic and overflying - flying over the Indian airspace. The Ministry of Civil Aviation is also trying to push in-flight connectivity for quite some time, but TRAI recommendations is the first concrete step in this direction.

Sensex closes 322 points higher to 34,142, Nifty at 10,479; Tata Steel, Sun Pharma, YES Bank top gainers
  • The Sensex, Nifty rose today, tracking broader Asia after comments from a Federal Reserve official eased worries about faster rate hikes in the United States and sparked a rebound in recently hit sectors such as drug makers. While the Sensex rose 322 pts to 34,142 level, the Nifty  closed  points 108 points higher at 10,491 level.  Top Sensex gainers were Tata Steel (6.26%), Sun Pharma (5.17%), and YES Bank (2.28%).

    Of 30 Sensex stocks, 25 closed higher.

    Midcaps and small cap indexes rose 239 points and 272 points, respectively.

    All sectoral indexes closed higher on the BSE.

    BSE metal and bankex indexes led the recovery gaining 469 points and 356 points to 15,327 and 28,535 levels respectively.

    "US bond yields have fallen and so sentiment is higher," said Anita Gandhi, whole time director, Arihant Capital Markets.

    "Price correction has happened to a large extent in pharma, so market is looking at some value buying."

    Stock markets have been under pressure recently amid continued worries about the fallout from a $1.77 billion fraud that hit Punjab National Bank, and concerns that the central bank could soon move to raise interest rates to contain accelerating inflation.

    The Nifty Pharma index rose 2.64 percent or 233 points in its biggest intraday percentage gain since February 8. It had declined about 8 percent since the start of the year, as of Thursday's close.

    Financials also gained, with HDFC Bank (1.12%) and ICICI Bank (1.46%) among the biggest contributors to the rise.

    Federal Bank climbed as much as 5.2 percent after the bank on Thursday approved buying a stake in financial services company Equirus Capital.

    Global markets

    Shares were mixed Friday, with European stock benchmarks slipping after a day of gains in Asia.

    In early trading, Germany's DAX index edged 0.1 percent lower to 12,454.01 points and France's CAC 40 lost 0.1 percent to 5,303.40. London's FTSE 100 was off 0.2 percent at 7,234.96. On Wall Street, the future for the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.3 percent and that for the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.2 percent.

    ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6 percent to 3,289.02 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.7 percent to 21,892.78. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1 percent to 31,267.17 and Seoul's Kospi rose 1.5 percent to 2,451.52. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 climbed 0.8 percent to 5,999.80 and India's Sensex was up 0.8 percent at 34,099.90. Benchmarks in New Zealand, Taiwan and Southeast Asia also gained.

    WALL STREET: Gains in industrial companies and other sectors outweighed losses in banks and health care stocks. Energy companies rose after crude oil prices recovered from an early slide. Bond yields declined from four-year highs amid fears of higher inflation and interest rates. The S&P gained 0.1 percent and the Dow added 0.7 percent, while the Nasdaq declined 0.1 percent.

General Awareness

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Highway liquor ban

  • Context: The Supreme Court has given the State governments the discretion to decide, on facts, whether areas covered by local self-governing bodies or areas proximate to municipal pockets should be exempted from the court’s nationwide prohibition on sale of liquor within 500 metres along the highways.

    What is the ban all about?

    In 2016, the Supreme Court passed an order banning the sale of alcohol along national and state highways, ordering the cancellation of liquor licences issued to shops by April 1, 2017.

    The order states that no liquor stores should be even visible from highways, or located within a distance of 500 metres of the highways, or be directly accessible from a national or state highway. The order has been subsequently modified to exempt establishments within 220 metres of the highways for smaller towns and municipalities with a population of less than 20,000 people.

    Significance of this ban:

    The order reaffirms a policy decision of the union government that goes back more than 10 years. In 2004, the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) unanimously agreed that licences for liquor shops should not to be given along the national highways, and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has “consistently” advised state governments not to issue fresh licences and remove liquor shops from national highways.

    Why the ban?

    The order is aimed at tackling the rising menace of drunk driving as well as improving road safety conditions in India. The court cited “alarming” statistics showing drunk driving-related accidents and deaths, and said the order is in “overwhelming public interest.”
    Citing data from the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Supreme Court noted that in 2015, intake of alcohol or drugs by drivers resulted in 16,298 road accidents (4.2% of total accidents) and 6,755 fatalities (6.4% of total accidents) where drivers were at fault.
    The court also said data showing low incidence of drunk driving often tends to be skewed and “under-reported” as a cause of accidents, as that can affect the claims of victims or their heirs to accident compensation.


    The Supreme Court order banning establishments selling alcohol along all state and national highways is a classic case of good intentions missing the mark. The apex court directive is certainly well meant. It stems from the desire to curb drunken driving that kills thousands of people each year on our highways. But a blanket ban on all liquor outlets is a sweeping and radical measure, throwing out the baby with the bath water. While the move’s impact on drunken driving is likely to be marginal, the ban puts thousands of valid businesses employing lakhs of people at risk.

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