Nation Current Affairs 30 Sep 2016 Patna High Court str ...

Patna High Court strikes down Bihar prohibition law, calls it illegal

Published Sep 30, 2016, 12:27 pm IST
Updated Sep 30, 2016, 2:56 pm IST
Rs 10,000 belonging to the public are saved due to the liquor ban, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had earlier said.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. (Photo: PTI)
 Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. (Photo: PTI)

Patna: The Patna High Court on Friday struck down the Bihar Prohibition of Liquor Act, calling it illegal.

The Bihar government had instituted a tough prohibition law this year to prevent consumption of liquor in the state. Starting April 1 this year, country-made liquor was banned. Then the ban was extended to Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).


But the Nitish Kumar government went even further and introduced a provision in the law that allows action against all adult members of a family if liquor is found on their premises or one of them is suspected to have consumed it.

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 same bench had on May 20 reserved its order on a batch of writ petitions filed by Liquor Trade Association and many individuals challenging the liquor law in Bihar brought by Nitish Kumar government with stringent penal provisions.

Earlier this month, 18 people died in a hooch tragedy in Bihar’s Gopalganj district. However, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar refused to term the tragedy as a ‘failure of prohibition’ saying such incidents have happened in states where there was no ban on liquor.

Listing the virtues of the decision to declare Bihar a complete dry state in April last, Kumar said, "Steps taken by the state government (on alcohol ban) cannot be retreated."


On the loss of about Rs 5,000 crore revenue due to the prohibition, he said, "Around Rs 10,000 crore of the people are saved due to the liquor ban, which will be spent on good things and in turn further enhance the state's GDP."

The Court quashed the April 5 notification of the state government which had completely banned trade, manufacture and consumption of alcohol, Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) as well spiced and domestic liquor.

On the basis of experience in course of implementation of the Excise law, the state government had incorporated some additional provisions by way of Amendments enhancing duration of jail term, amount of penalty, arrest of adult members of a family in the event of recovery of liquour from home and community penalty among others.


The amended liquor legislation, after passage from both houses of the Bihar Legislature during recently concluded Monsoon session, was approved by the state Cabinet. It has got consent of Governor Ramnath Kovind too.

The Amended Liquor law was expected to be notified on October 2 next.

Asked about the fate of Amended Liquor legislation expected to be notified on October 2, Additional Advocate General Lalit Kishore said the court today quashed the April 5 notification.

"I would be able to talk more on the subject only after seeing the order of the court," he said.


Excise Commissioner A K Das said, "I cannot say anything at this moment as I have not seen the court's order".

Noted lawyer Rajiv Bhawan had appeared on behalf of the Bihar government on May 20 to defend the liquor law. Senior Advocate Y V Giri, who had appeared on behalf of

Restaurant and Bar Association, had argued that the Amended Act was itself "unconstitutional" because it creates unreasonable restrictions on choice of livelihood of a person which is protected under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The content of the petitions filed on behalf of Liquor Trade Association and some individuals were also on similar lines.


The court's order quashing liquor notification would be a severe jolt to the government.

The Chief Minister had taken up the cause of prohibition on a mission mode and has been continously monitoring the implementation of the alcohol ban in the state.

Kumar has also toured many places in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab championing the cause of prohibition.

As per the last data provided by the state Excise department on September 2, 11,679 litre of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and 92,291.47 litre of country liquor were seized from April to August this year.


However, the ban on the sale and consumption of toddy had been lifted by the state government under pressure from JD(U) ally Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

The Jharkhand wing of the JD(U) had earlier accused Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of ‘hatching a conspiracy against the liquor ban’ in the state.

Location: India, Bihar, Patna