The liquor ban on highways dented the bustling marriage palace industry of Punjab dearly following the order of state’s excise and taxation department. It is expected to take the sheen off from many a big fat Punjabi wedding.
Marriage palace owners contend that the Supreme Court order banning sale of liquor within 500 meters of highways, did not mention marriage palaces following which the excise department has sought clarity from Advocate General Punjab about the Apex court verdict.
“In the SC order, there is no mention of marriage palaces which have been barred from serving liquor. Moreover, there is a ban on sale of liquor in the order while marriage palaces do not sell or purchase liquor.
“Customers who organise functions in palaces serve liquor to their guests. Therefore, marriage palaces should not be barred from serving liquor,” said Sukhdev Singh Sidhu, president, Punjab Marriage Palace and Resort Association.
He rued that the the state excise and taxation department’s was not giving liquor permit to people for serving drinks in marriage and other functions.
“It will hit our businesses,” said Sidhu, accusing the department of misinterpreting the SC judgement.
An official of Punjab excise and taxation department said the department has sought clarity from Advocate General Punjab to know whether the SC order was applicable on marriage palaces.
“Till, there is a clarity on the matter, marriage palaces have been asked not to allow liquor,” said an official.
There are about 3,400 marriage palaces in Punjab and 85 per cent are located within 500 meters of state and national highways, said Sidhu.
In Punjab, marriages are often celebrated with a liberal flow of booze, and customers who have booked palaces for marriage functions have been frantically asking whether they will be able to serve drinks to their guests.
A marriage venue located on a highway is considered a prime wedding venue in Punjab and this April, the marriage season too is in full swing.
The Supreme Court had in a recent order held that liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways will have to shut down from April 1. For areas having population up to 20,000, it has allowed liquor vends at a distance of 220 metres from the highways.