The Delhi High Court has sought a response from AAP-led Delhi government on the PIL seeking to quash the provision which prescribes 25 years as the minimum legal age for buying and drinking alcohol in the national capital. The provision comes under the Delhi Excise Act, which prescribes a minimum age of 25 years for any person to buy and consume alcohol in Delhi.
The court on Friday issued a notice to the Delhi government and the office of the Commissioner of Excise, on the plea which cited the lower drinking age in other states of the country. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar has given eight weeks to them to file counter-affidavits. It listed the matter for further consideration on October 9.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, was hearing a plea filed by lawyer Kush Kalra seeking quashing of section 23 of Delhi Excise act, 2009. The plea has also sought to know what steps the Delhi government has taken towards prohibiting and regulating the sale and supply of alcohol to persons under the age of 25 years in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
While opposing the plea, Delhi government’s standing counsel Ramesh Singh was quoted by the Indian Express as saying that it is not maintainable.
The plea said that the rule is “discriminatory against residents of Delhi as compared to citizens residing in other states, where the legal age for consuming alcohol is less than 25 years”. Kalra said that the legal age to drink in other states like Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Telangana, Jharkhand was 21, while it was 18 in states like Rajasthan and Puducherry.
The plea also said a person coming to Delhi from a state which legalises drinking at the age of 18 years is likely to continue consuming alcohol thus criminalising their behaviour. On the other hand, young persons from Delhi travel to states which have lower legal ages to consume alcohol which raises the question how a person by moving his/her location becomes responsible, the plea stated.
While the petition further contended that according to reports about 67 per cent of the population in the age group of 18-25 years purchased alcohol from liquor vends but are never asked for age proof. It has sought directions to the Delhi government to conduct awareness programmes on responsible consumption of alcohol among college and school going students by including it in the curriculum.