इंडियन आवाज़     21 Feb 2024 04:38:20      انڈین آواز

High Court strikes down Bihar liquor ban, terms it ‘illegal’

Anwarul Hoda / Patna

drinking-liquorIn a major setback to Nitish Kumar government in Bihar, the Patna High Court today struck down its  controversial Prohibition of Liquor Act, calling it “illegal”. In April this year, the Nitish Kumar government had imposed total prohibition on liquor in the state.

Quashing Bihar government notification completely banning liquor in the state, court said it was ultra virus to the Constitution. A division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari and Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh quashed the April 5 notification of the state government to stop consumption and sale of alcohol in the state.

The court said in its verdict said that the notification is ultra vires to the Constitution, hence not enforceable.The same bench had on May 20 reserved its order on a batch of writ petitions filed by Liquor Trade Association and many individuals challenging the liquor law which has stringent penal provisions.

The liquor law in Bihar was made more stringent last month after the Assembly passed the Bihar Excise and Prohibition Bill with voice vote. The Opposition boycotted the passage, with the BJP calling it a “black law”.

Under the new law, all adult members of the family could be arrested if liquor was found stored in any household, a provision that Kumar had a hard time defending. Also, there is a provision of imposing collective fines on villages and localities which are found repeatedly flouting prohibition law.
Since its passage, Nitish Kumar was seen repeatedly assuring his people that no innocent person will be harassed.

The statewide ban on liquor in Bihar was widely slammed last month following a hooch tragedy in Gopalganj, where 16 people died and three were blinded after consuming spurious liquor.
The incident exposed that despite total prohibition on liquor consumption, alcohol is available in the black market.

The Nitish Kumar-led Grand Secular Alliance government had first banned the manufacture, trade, sale, consumption of country-made liquor since April 1, but later imposed a blanket ban on all types of liquor including foreign liquor in the state.

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