Underage drinkers have easy access to alcohol in Delhi as youth below 25 years of age are able to buy liquor at vends, bars and pubs without furnishing age proof, according to a survey. The legal drinking age in Delhi is 25 years and about 67 per cent of the respondents in the age group of 18-25 years, purchased alcohol from liquor vends but were never asked for age proof, claimed the survey conducted by non-profit group ‘Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD)’.
Interestingly, none of the respondents were verbally informed about the legal drinking age at the vends and bars. However, 97.3 per cent respondents were aware of the age limit on drinking. The survey was conducted between June 1-August 31 this year to assess the implementation of the Delhi excise law on the sale of alcohol to underage youngsters, said CADD founder Prince Singhal. “Government liquor vends, bars, pubs, excise department, police, none of them check the age of consumers, not only making a complete mockery of the minimum age law but also severely fuelling underage drinking and drunk driving which results in loss of life in road accidents,” Singhal said.
The survey was conducted among 6,000 Delhi residents. Of these, 3,976 were male and 2,024 were female respondents with 3,422 people in the age group of 18-25 years. The survey noted that “the law pertaining to underage consumption, purchase and even selling (alcohol) is non- existent and there has been no recorded enforcement drive to check the legal age of those consuming alcohol or those selling alcohol to underage consumers by police or by excise department.”
According to the Delhi government’s excise department, “strict action” is taken whenever any violation of rules for the sale of alcohol to underage persons is found. “We send our teams to the vends and bars for checking whether the laid down rules are being followed or not, from time to time. Strict action is taken in case of violations,” said a senior excise department official. Alcohol is a state list subject as per the Constitution. State governments frame their own laws for regulating sale and consumption of alcohol.
The law on underage buying and selling of alcohol is “random and does not specify any penalty” for selling alcohol to those below 25. It also does not specify any penalty for buyers, the survey said. Police said that there are certain norms to be followed by the bars and vends to discourage underage alcohol consumption and action could be taken if there is any complaint. “The bars and vends need to display the provision of ‘no sale of liquor to underage persons’. They can also check their IDs for age verification. Local police can take action in this regard if there is any complaint,” said Madhur Verma, DCP and Delhi Police spokesperson.