Friday, September 30, 2016

The Patna High Court on Friday declared Bihar’s amended prohibition law illegal.

The new stringent prohibition law of Bihar government had earlier been dubbed as “draconian” by several qaurters. 

Recently, the Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind had ratified the amended prohibition law after it was passed by the Bihar legislature amid protest by the Opposition.

Under the law police or excise department officials could send anyone found with a liquor bottle in his house or residential compound, to jail for 10 years.

The officials could even arrest all adult family members if a bottle of liquor was found in the house.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been defending the law and appealing to other States to ban liquor.

“I’ll not stay back on this prohibition issue till I’m alive”, Mr. Nitish Kumar had declared.

The Opposition have been against the stringent measures of the law.

The Bihar government had recently given sops to private liquor manufacturing companies in the State while giving tax benefits to them.

There are over a dozen liquor manufacturing companies in the State which could sell liquor only outside Bihar.

Reacting to the Patna High Court verdict, Neeraj Kumar, an MLC of the ruling party JD(U), said, “Legal options are still open on the issue for us... we’ll first see the court order and then decide.”

HC declared 19(4) of Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act ultra virus that means ban of all kinds of liquor is lifted. The court said the state govt did not apply its mind of how prohibition should be implemented. Though the Act is not declared ulra virus but the main section allowing prohibition is declared so. It means prohibition goes for now.

Lawyer Ashish Giri, who represented restaurant owners., said, “When the state govt had issued licenses for IMFL sale till 29 March 2015, how could it expect a total prohibition just six days later.”

Earlier in the month, he had claimed that the liquor ban imposed on April 5 across the state had brought positive changes in Bihar, and had urged people to “turn off the lights and drink juice”.

Ever since the statewide liquor ban was brought in, Nitsih Kumar has been facing criticism from opposition and also sections of civil society dubbing it as “talibani and draconian”.

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