“We are very sorry,” Chief Justice J S Khehar told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi when he submitted that despite assurance, the special bench did not assemble yesterday to hear pleas seeking modification of an order banning liquor vends along highways.
The bench headed by the CJI had yesterday assured Rohatgi, who had mentioned matters relating to the ban for urgent hearing, that the special bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao would assemble at court number 9 at 3 PM to hear the batch of pleas.
“We kept waiting. 100 lawyers were there. The bench did not assemble. We were not informed either,” Rohatgi said.
“We are very sorry for yesterday. The matters will be heard tomorrow at 3 PM,” the CJI said.
When some other lawyers also complained about the same issue, the CJI then said, “I have already apologised. Do you want me to apologise again? I will apologise again.”
Rohatgi and other lawyers then sought urgent hearing of the pleas tomorrow saying that the verdict, ordering closure of liquor vends alongside highways, will come into effect from April 1.
The CJI then said 84-year-old jurist T R Andhyarujina died today and that Justice Chandrachud has gone to Mumbai to take part in the last rites. “If Justice Chandrachud is here tomorrow then these matters will be heard at 3 PM. If Justice Chandrachud is not available tomorrow, then I will constitute a separate bench,” Justice Khehar said.
A bench comprising then Chief Justice T S Thakur (now retired) and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao had on December 15, 2016 ordered a ban on all liquor shops along national as well as state highways across the country and had made it clear that licences of existing shops will not be renewed after March 31 next year.
The special bench of Justices Chandrachud and Rao was to hear pleas of states yesterday against the verdict. The bench did not assemble yesterday as Justice Chandrachud sat in the court with the CJI till 4 PM.