Lok Sabha nod to bill on potable alcohol

New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill that seeks to transfer the authority to regulate “potable alcohol” to the states.

The Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015, was passed by a voice vote after a brief discussion.

Replying to the discussion on the Bill, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the central government believed in the spirit of federalism and “respected the suggestions given by the Supreme Court on the Bill”.

“This government believes in federalism and sharing powers with the states, and that’s what the Bill tries to do,” she told the house.

The bill amends the first schedule of Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951, to provide that existing heading “26 Fermentation Industries” will be substituted with the heading “26 Fermentation Industries (other than potable alcohol)”.

The amendment will help end a long-standing confusion over the jurisdiction of central and state government on potable alcohol and industrial alcohol, and ensure that industries engaged in manufacturing alcohol meant for potable purposes shall be under the total and exclusive control of the states in all respects.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment on January 20, 1997, demarcated the regulation of production of alcohol between the Centre and states (Bihar Distillery and another vs Union of India and others).

The court ruled that the Centre should regulate the production of alcohol for industrial use while the states should regulate the production of alcohol for potable purpose (consumption).

The Bill conforms to the Supreme Court’s decision.

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