New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Kerala government to use its discretion to permit toddy shops within 500 metres of highways in panchayats and municipal areas. A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and D.Y. Chandrachud passed this order on applications of Kerala and others seeking an exemption. In February, the court had clarified that the state government could determine whether the principle laid down by the court in the July 11 order should also apply to these areas.

Senior counsels Raju Ramachandran appearing for the Kerala Toddy Shop Licensee Association and V.
Giri for the state urged the court to treat toddy differently from other forms of liquor, owing to its low degree of intoxication. They said it has only about 8.2 percent alcohol content and it was “traditionally” considered a “natural drink” and

Section 3 of the Kerala Abkari Act 1902 defined toddy differently. According to the apex court’s order, about 1,000 toddy shops are to be affected, and already 200 of them had been shut. The Bench asked individual licensees to submit their representations to the competent authorities in the state which may pass appropriate orders on the location of the toddy shop concerned and disposed of the matter.

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