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No extension of closing time for bars in Karnataka

Bangalore, June 14 (IANS) Karnataka Home Minister V.S. Acharya Monday shot down a proposal by his cabinet colleague to allow bars in star hotels to serve liquor past midnight.

‘There will not be any extension of the present deadline,’ he told reporters referring to Excise Minister M.P. Renukacharya’s efforts to get the state cabinet’s approval for allowing bars, at least in star hotels, to remain open past midnight.

At present, liquor shops have to shut doors by 11 p.m. while bars have to stop serving liquor by 11.30 p.m., though they can remain open till midnight.

Liquor sellers, bar owners and tourist operators have been lobbying with the government for several years for relaxation of the closing deadline on the ground that Bangalore has become the nation’s IT hub, attracting scores of Indians and foreigners on business visits frequently.

Renukacharya has been telling the media for nearly a month now that he strongly favours relaxation at least for star hotels and was confident of getting the cabinet approval later this month.

The Bangalore police have stoutly opposed the relaxation, saying this could create frequent law and order problems in the night and they do not have adequate staff needed to keep vigil in the nights.

Last week, Renukacharaya and Bangalore city police commissioner Shankar Bidari were involved in a public wrangle over the issue.

The excise minister took exception to Bidari telling the media that he was against extending the closing deadline.

‘We are not proposing that all liquor shops and bars in the city be allowed to remain open beyond midnight. We are thinking of permitting bars in star hotels to serve liquor beyond midnight. The police commissioner has no business to comment on it. He has to carry out the government orders,’ Renukacharya said.

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