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Q. Draconian liquor prohibition law: Comment on draconian liquor prohibition law proposed by Bihar government.
Aug 05, 2016 Related to : GS paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

Recently Bihar Government has imposed a total ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol including India Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) with immediate effect. The above action came under severe criticism that penal laws and administrative measures do not prevent alcohol consumption. In a bid to ward off criticism, government has come up with fresh legislation, which is so stringent that many observers called it as draconian.

Issues in the proposed excise bill-

  • The most controversial provision in the proposed bill is it makes all adults of a family responsible for the consumption and possession of liquor at home by any member of the family.
  • All sections of the in the proposed bill are non-bailable, leaving it solely to the courts to decide based on the circumstances and gravity of individual cases.
  • Another controversial provision says that upon finding utensils with a mix of sugar or jaggery with grapes on the premises, the police would be free to assume that liquor-making was in progress, and suspects and those providing them with logistics such as vehicles and containers can be held.
  • It is incumbent upon homeowners to inform police if their tenants drink. Refusing to take a breathalyser test is an offence under the new provisions.
  • The bill empowers the police to confiscate premises where liquor is consumed or stored.

Analysis-

  • As all the provisions are non-bailable nature, the provision that makes all adults of a family responsible for drinking by one, and the confiscation of the crime premises etc. have invited severe criticism from all sections of society.
  • The provisions of new excise bill in Bihar that will add more teeth to the state’s crackdown on alcohol indeed are scarily excessive. Such excessive provisions may bring anarchy in state.
  • The provisions of prohibition appear impractical, unfeasible and illiberal. Several of these contravene fundamental rights of an individual. These controversial new provisions are unlikely to survive judicial scrutiny.

Conclusion-

In a recent times India has witnessed growing tendency among State governments to ban liquor. These actions in the apparent interest of protecting the public health may appear politically attractive, but it is fraught with practical consequences. Hence any provisions of ban must practical and must lie within the overall framework of constitution. Excessive provisions won’t yield any result. 


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