When the Nitish Kumar government said it wanted a total ban on alcohol, little would have the people of the state realised that it was willing to near-literally go the extra mile to enforce it. The state government has now amended the Bihar Government Servants Conduct Rules, 1976, and approved the Bihar Judicial Officers Conduct Rules, 2017, to debar Bihar government personnel and judicial officers from consuming any intoxicant even outside the state’s borders. It would also apply to UPSC officers serving in the state as well as Bihar cadre officers on deputation to the Centre. As per a report in The Telegraph, the legal opinion on the matter is that the executive and the administration are well within their jurisdiction to impose such a ban, but that shouldn’t make it any less farcical.
The liquor ban might make for good optics, but will shrink the state’s revenue collections—it had earned a sixth of its overall own-tax revenue of R20,750 crore in FY15 from taxing alcohol. Besides, the social and health benefits that the state had claimed would accrue too seem elusive; Kumar recently claimed that the state saw a 55% decrease in road mishaps, 24% fall in murders, 16% reduction in loot and 37% lesser incidence of riots after the liquor ban, but a January 2017 IndiaSpend analysis shows that the incidence of cognisable offences has risen by 13% in the nine months since the ban in April last year. Be that as it may, the state bearing down on officers outside the state is a gross violation of their rights as individuals.