Patna High Court on Friday struck down the Bihar government's prohibition of Liquor Act in the state and termed it illegal.
Nitish Kumar’s liquor ban law in Bihar was today struck down by the Patna High Court. The court said that the state government’s Prohibition of Liquor Act in the state is illegal. The prohibition is said to be in the violation of the Article 14, that provides equality before the law since family members or neighbours are liable to be held criminally responsible for the actions of someone else. The Article 21 says that one one can be deprived of their lives or personal property except according to a ‘procedure established by law’.
A division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari and Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh quashed the April 5 notification of the state government to stop consumption and sale of alcohol in the state. The April 5 notification is ultra vires to the
Constitution, hence not enforceable, the court said in its verdict.
The prohibition has come under a lot of scrutiny in the past as some even termed it as a draconian law. The prohibition has harmed the revenue of the state in a big way and has also encouraged illegal bootlegging.
According to an analysis by PRS Legislative Research, the prohibition is also in contravention of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. For anyone found to be consuming or even in possession of alcohol, the Act says that family members of the person will be held responsible; as will be the owners if the tenants participate in the “illegal” activity. This law also says that if a teenage boy has consumed alcohol under the roof of his father, the father would have to face a jail time of at least 10 years or a fine of at least 1 lakh.
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Earlier this year the state CM had also asked the Indian Prime Minister to ban liquor throughout the country. Speaking on the Yoga Day, he had said that those addicted to alcohol couldn’t perform Yoga. He had opined that Yoga would be useless if liquor was not banned.
The Nitish Kumar-led Grand Secular Alliance government had first banned the manufacture, trade, sale, consumption of country-made liquor since April 1, but later imposed a blanket ban on all types of liquor including foreign liquor in the state.