Bihar Cabinet approves amendments to liquor law

The Bihar Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments in certain provisions of the stringent State Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016. The amended liquor law will now be proposed in the upcoming monsoon session of the State Assembly for its approval.

Earlier on Monday Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had declared that his government was mulling over the amendments based on “people’s feedback from interaction” and an “analysis” of the provisions which were being misused by police or excise department officials.

“We not only enact and enforce laws but also review their efficacy through ground-level studies and feedback from various sections. A committee of officials is reviewing the provisions of the law currently and very soon there will be an official version of it,” the Chief Minister had said.

Sources in the government told
The Hindu
that government has relaxed some of the stringent provisions. For instance, the provision of community fines and of seizure and confiscation of house or vehicle in the event of discovery of liquor therein is likely to be annulled. Under the Act, the minimum provision of punishment is jail term of 10 years up to life imprisonment; if liquor is found in a house, all members of the family above 18 years of age are deemed as guilty.

While hearing a PIL on Tuesday a Division Bench of the Patna High Court comprising Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Rajiv Ranjan Prasad had rapped the State government for seizing vehicles in drink-driving cases. While putting Section 56 of the Act under scrutiny, the court said some moveable and immoveable materials are liable for confiscation in case of liquor recovery from them but there is no provision for seizure and confiscation of vehicles in drink-driving cases.

Over 1,22,000 arrested

Over 6,52,000 raids have been conducted by the police and excise officials between April 1, 2016 and March 6, 2018 in which 1,22,000 persons were arrested. Similarly, altogether 16.4 lakh litres of Indian-made foreign liquor and around 12.4 lakh litres of country liquor have been seized so far in the State since April 2016.

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