Govt bans, but High Court lifts ban on liquor, strikes down Bill

liqourPatna: The Patna High Court on Friday struck down the Bihar government’s imposition of total prohibition in the state, a poll promise that was widely credited for bringing chief minister Nitish Kumar back to power last year.

The Bihar Prohibition and Excise Bill-2016, which came into effect on April 5, was deemed illegal by a division bench of the court, which said it violates fundamental rights envisaged under Article 14 of the Constitution.

The bill, which invites stringent legal provisions for consuming or storing all types of liquor, came under widespread condemnation from the state’s Liquor Trade Association and several private individuals, who filed a batch of writ petitions against it.

Any violation invited heavy fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years. The law sought to penalise not only owners of the property where the violation occurred, but also their family members.

The state government was forced to defend the move in August when more than 15 people died after consuming spurious liquor in Gopalganj area. It was also forced to deny claims that the state exchequer was hit hard by the ban.

The state government was yet to react to the court order.

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