Bihar liquor prohibition law: The Bihar cabinet approved a change to the prohibition law that will let drivers of vehicles transporting alcohol in the "dry state' off the hook in exchange for paying a far lower penalty than was previously required.
According to Additional Chief Secretary S Siddharth, the authorities can now release vehicles transporting liquor after payment of either 10 per cent of the insured value of the vehicle or Rs 5 lakh after consulting the judicial authorities.
The decision to make the change in the Bihar Prohibition and Excise (Amendment) Act, 2022 was taken on Tuesday (May 30) at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had imposed total prohibition in the state in 2016. The modified section will be notified soon by the government after completing mandatory formalities, Siddharth said.
What's the existing policy?
At present, the owner of a vehicle seized in Bihar for transporting liquor is required to pay 50 per cent of its insured value for the release with the court's permission. The proposal for the amendment was placed before the cabinet by the Prohibition, Excise and Registration Department.
Siddharth told reporters after the meeting that in certain cases it was found that owners of new vehicles transporting liquor are unable to pay 50% of its insured value.
Besides, it was also realised that in some cases the vehicle owners were not involved in violation of the prohibition laws.
"The vehicles can only be released after due permission from the competent court. An appeal in this regard will have to be made before the district magistrate concerned," he added.
Several people died after consuming spurious liquor
Notably, this comes after several people in the state have died after consuming spurious liquor in the last few months. Earlier in April this year, at least four people lost their lives after allegedly consuming spurious liquor in the East Champaran district. The deaths took place in areas under the Turkauliya and Paharpur police stations of East Champaran.
It should be noted here that the sale and consumption of alcohol was banned in Bihar by the Nitish Kumar government in April 2016. However, incidents of smuggling of liquor continue to be reported from the state notwithstanding the ongoing drive against bootleggers.
(With PTI inputs)