Bihar imposing collective fine on villages for flouting liquor ban

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Patna, Aug 10 (IANS) Nearly four-and-a-half months after a total liquor ban in Bihar, a district administration has begun the process of imposing a collective fine on a village for repeated violation of the liquor ban, an official said on Wednesday.

Nalanda District Magistrate Thiyagarajan S.M. told IANS that the process was initiated to impose a collective fine on Kailashpur village under Islampur block in Nalanda, about 100 km from here.

Nalanda is the home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Thiyagarajan said: “We served notices for punitive action to 50 households in the village after warning them not to manufacture and sell liquor.”

Liquor was seized from the village several times, he said.

According to district excise officials, each of the 50 families have to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 as per the provision of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Bill 2016.

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Thiyagarajan said the village has been known as a centre of manufacturing country made liquor for years.

He said the administration has also served notices for confiscation of property of three hotels in Nalanda after recovery of liquor bottles from there.

“Hotels have been served notices after the administration received their replies. The process to confiscate their properties will begin as per provisions of the excise law,” he added.

According to sources, the district administrations of Nawada, Sheikhpura, Bhagalpur and Patna are likely to begin the process to impose collective fines on villages in their jurisdiction for violation of the liquor ban.

The excise department in Nawada has identified at least six villages under Rajauli, Akbarpur and Kauakol blocks.

“We have decided to forward the names of such villages where repeated violation of liquor ban has been reported,” a district excise official said.

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Sheikhpura District Magistrate Sunil Kumar said the administration has issued notice to Dadhi Tola village for violation of the liquor ban. If it is found to be violating the ban again then it would have to pay a collective fine.

Bhagalpur excise department official V.K. Dubey said it has forwarded a proposal to impose a collective fine on Diwanpokhar mohalla and Malhariya village for violation of the liquor ban.

Under the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Bill 2016, a district collector has the power to impose collective fine on a village or a locality in a town if a group of people violate the liquor ban frequently.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party dubbed it as a “black law” and “draconian”.

Ignoring protests from the opposition, the state government is implementing the ban and imposing fine on the violators. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the new legislation was required to plug gaping holes in the previous law.

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