Patna HC strikes down Nitish govt’s liquor ban, calls its illegal

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Liquor shop in New Delhi on Monday. Photo by Shailendra Pandey/TehelkaIn an embarrassment to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Patna High Court on September 30 struck down the Bihar government’s Anti-liquor Act (prohibition), calling illegal.

The Bihar Hotels’ and Bars’ Association had filed a petition before the HC pleading it to scrap the ban on liquor.

The Bihar Prohibition and Excise Bill, 2016 had provisions such as the arrest of all adult members of a particular family in the event of liquor bottle being found in a house. Bihar Governor Ram Nath gave his assent to the law a month after it had passed in the Assembly.

Several sections of the society said that the law may also encourage underground manufacturing and sale of illegally brewed alcohol, mixed as it is with poisonous chemicals in order to increase the liquor’s potency.

Special courts under the Bihar Special Courts Act only can try cases related to violation of the law and not the police. On its part, the police department has seen an uprising of sorts, with many saying the requirements for implementing the law are near impossible.

Kumar by promising women that he would turn Bihar into a dry state won a third consecutive term as chief minister in November.

Meanwhile, more than 13,000 people have been arrested so far since April, when Kumar declared prohibition in the state. Not only this, last month, 17 persons died after consuming illegal liquor in Gopalganj.