Nitish Kumar govt likely to relax liquor prohibition law

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Facing criticism over poor implementation of the liquor ban, the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar is likely to give some relaxation to the violators.

According to a top official of the JDU, the state government is ready to review this issue and a proposal is likely to be put on table in the upcoming budget session of the Bihar Vidhan Sabha.

As per the proposal, the violators who are caught in drunken state can be let off after paying penalty on the spot. Though, it is not applicable on repeat offenders. A person repeatedly violating the norms of liquor prohibition law would be liable to face jail term.

Such a relaxation would allow liquor consumption at home and would also promote the home delivery concept, which is already popular among habitual drinkers in Bihar.

The JDU official further said that the vehicle used for smuggling of liquor could be released after paying a fine.

He said that the Chief Minister is under huge political pressure after a series of spurious liquor tragedies in different districts in the last four months that have taken the lives of more than 80 persons and many others have lost their eyesight.

Reacting to it, Danish Rizwan, the chief spokesperson of HAM said: “Chief minister Nitish Kumar, instead of bringing amendment or review of liquor prohibition law, should do a survey on this issue. If common people of the state are satisfied with the amendment or review, our party will not go against it. If people of Bihar are in favour of withdrawal of the liquor ban, we also respect that decision.”

The liquor tragedies occurred in Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, Bettiah, Samastipur, Vaishali, Nawada and now CM’s district Nalanda.

This issue is severely affecting Nitish Kumar government especially after its alliance partners BJP and HAM are extremely vocal. They want a review of the liquor prohibition law. The liquor ban was enforced in Bihar in April 2016.

The government also came under criticism by the Patna High Court recently. The court said a large number of liquor related cases are pending which has led to a huge burden on the judicial system. Keeping this in view, the Nitish Kumar government should establish more courts in all 38 districts for speedy trials of liquor related cases.

Though, this would not be the first case of amendment in liquor prohibition act. In 2018, the state government made a provision to grant bail to normal offenders at the police station level. The offenders have to pay Rs 50,000 as fine. In case of offenders unable to give a penalty, they would be liable to face jail term. Under the liquor prohibition law, the maximum jail term is 10 years.

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