After the Patna High Court termed the Bihar’s prohibition law and its punishment for violations and “illegal” and “draconian”, state CM Nitish Kumar said on October 1, that the government will come up with an even more stringent law for prohibition and excise with an aim to make Bihar a dry state. According to an HT report Nitish Kumar at an event in Patna said, “We will mark the centenary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagraha movement by implementing the new Act on Gandhi Jayanti.” In the new version of the Prohibition and Excise Act, the provisions are reportedly more harsh as it will make every adult a culpable if any liquor-related offence is committed in a residence, and also the whole community can be imposed with a heavy penalty if there are repeated offences of manufacturing and trading of liquor in it.
However new the rules may be, there are many provisions of the previous Act which have been carried forward in the new one. Y V Giri, who stood on the behalf of liquor companies who basically challenged the earlier Act, had told HT, “The state government should better pore over the HC order before notifying the new Act. In my opinion, it too would be quashed if it is challenged.” Stressing on the fact that a prohibition of alcohol will improve the society, Nitish Kumar said, “Liquor consumption is a social stigma.” He claimed that all earlier excise laws will be repealed when the new Act is enforced. He added that one should see how peaceful the environment has become in some villages after the prohibition was introduced, before which there was utter chaos.
Some of the old provisions that would find a place in the new law are penalising someone for allowing the use of premises for a liquor-related offence, penalising a company and everyone in charge of its affairs if the offender is a company, and fining the owner of a house from where utensils meant for making liquor are found. “Prohibition is saving people’s thousands of crores as they are not wasting it on alcohol. These savings will boost the economy of the state in the long run as people would invest it in businesses,” Kumar added, according to the HT report.