In a significant development, the Bihar government on Wednesday evening approved the proposal for reducing the quantum of sentence for those found guilty of violating the anti-liquor law.
The announcement in this regard was made by Arun Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat department.
Singh, however, did not divulge the contents of the proposed amendment bill.
Advocate General Lalit Kishor told a news channel that the amendments proposed a reduction in the quantum of punishment for those involved in sale and manufacture of liquor as well as for those consuming alcohol, including the first-time offenders.
Earlier, both the owner and the occupant of a property or vehicle, from which liquor was seized, were liable to be punished, Kishor said, adding that the amendments proposed shifting the onus primarily on the occupant.
Once the amendments come into force, those will be applicable to the new as well as the pending cases. In other words, those arrested under the old, stringent law might also avail of the relief granted under the amendments, the advocate general said.
The ban on sale and consumption of liquor was enforced in Bihar by the Nitish Kumar government in April, 2016.
Kumar had taken the radical step, which has cost the state exchequer about Rs 5,000 crore annually, in keeping with the promise he had made to the women voters in the run-up to the 2015 Bihar Assembly polls.
The prohibition law has, however, been termed as draconian by the opposition parties.
The chief minister himself has admitted of late that there have been complaints of misuse of its stringent provisions and promised that suitable amendments will be brought in.
The Monsoon Session of the state's bicameral legislature is scheduled to begin on July 20.
(With PTI inputs)