The HC on the company’s plea had quashed the case against the firm and directed the authorities to unseal its premises and restore possession with all the articles therein.
The Supreme Court has asked the Patna High Court to decide afresh the question whether energy drinks/fruit beer/beverages containing alcohol contents varying from 0.2% to 1.2% can be sold in Bihar, which has imposed complete prohibition on sale, manufacture and possession of liquor since April 2016. It also stayed the Patna HC’s interim August 1 order that asked the Bihar government to release and handover the godown back to local firm Smart India Marketing Proprietorship Concern, which allegedly markets and sells drinks containing alcohol content in the state. The HC on the company’s plea had quashed the case against the firm and directed the authorities to unseal its premises and restore possession with all the articles therein. It had also directed the government not to take any coercive action against the firm in connection with the case.
Stating that these drinks “can be used for the purpose of getting intoxicated”, the state government told the SC that selling of beverages containing alcoholic contents would defeat and frustrate its uncompromising policy of prohibition, which has been imposed to achieve its constitutional goal enshrined under Article 47 of the Constitution of India. The forensic reports of samples from the godowns were found positive in alcohol content varying from 0.2% to 1.2%, the petition filed via counsel Keshav Mohan stated. The provision of Section 13 read with definition of ‘alcoholic’, ‘intoxicant’ and ‘liquor’ defined under Sections 2(3), 2(40) and 2(44) of the Act of 2016 unambiguously provides for complete prohibition of all kind of beverages containing alcohol, irrespective of its strength/volume, it said. After the imposition of complete prohibition in the state, the company had started marketing/selling beverages containing alcohol of varying degrees i.e. from 0.2% to 1.2% under the garb of fruit beer/energy drinks.