It’s like this: there is no court beyond the Supreme Court. And yet, it has passed an order that has caused untold difficulty to the people. So the centre says a group of states, in writing, can request it to refer the matter to the President of India for reference to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the constitution.
There is another window. Article 137 allows the Supreme Court to review its judgments or orders, but subject to provisions of laws made by Parliament.
As Parliament has not ruled on how much the distance between a bar and the highway should be, it is possible that the President of India could call constitutional experts as well as the Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi and ask them their opinion on the crisis faced by the state governments because of the Supreme Court’s order on bars and liquor shops along the highways.
This will be tantamount to asking the Supreme Court to review its own judgment. If the Supreme Court says it cannot review it, the matter could be taken to the next level – where Parliament passes a law annulling or modifying the Supreme Court’s order. But that will be a surefire way of entering into protracted conflict with the judiciary.
It is hard to say what the centre – and the states – will do. Most of them are considering writing to the centre on the difficulties of implementing the order. It could be said that the challenge before the Court is the same as it faced in the case of jallikattu – where an order passed by the court in the general good questions the identity, right and livelihood of the people themselves.