Patna HC scraps Bihar liquor ban, Nitish Kumar plans a counter

Earlier in the month, Nitish had claimed that the liquor ban imposed on April 5 across the state had brought positive changes in Bihar.

Written by Santosh Singh | New Delhi | Published:October 1, 2016 4:28 am
Bihar, Bihar liquor ban, Patna high court, liquor ban, Bihar liquor ban, Prohibition of Liquor Act, liquor ban struck down, Bihar news, India news, latest news, Indian express Patna High Court.

IN A setback to the Bihar government, the Patna High Court on Friday quashed the government notification banning the consumption, storage and sale of all types of liquor in the state. The court held that the penal provisions were “unreasonable and draconian” and “cannot be justified in a civilised society”.

A division bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari and Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh, held that Section 19(4) of the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016 was “ultra vires and unenforceable”.

WATCH VIDEO: Bihar Liquor Ban: Patna High Court Strikes Down Liquor Ban, Terms It ”Illegal”

“In my opinion, Section 19(4) of the Bihar Excise Act, 1915, as amended with effect from 01.04.2016 (passed by the state legislatures on 31.03.2016) is ultra vires the Constitution and unenforceable,” said the court, which was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by various parties including manufacturers and dealers of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).

“The impugned notification, dated 05.04.2016, issued by the state under Section 19(4) of the said amended Act is also ultra vires the Constitution and, consequently, unenforceable,” it said.

“The punishment as prescribed by the recent amendment to the Act with effect from 01.04.2016, on all three counts, i.e. personal punishments, both physical and monetary, punishment of confiscation of premises, and punishment to the community, are quite unreasonable and draconian and cannot be justified in a civilised society. It may be justified in a police state, which surely we are not,” said the court in its 142-page order.

“When it comes to the Bihar Prohibition Act, 1938, which deals with liquor, which… taken in small quantities in a civilised manner is not injurious, the punishments are balanced with the social needs. But when we come to the amended provisions of the Bihar Excise Act, 2015, the provisions are clearly draconian and in excess of the balance that needs to be maintained,” said the court.

“The presumption of innocence is totally taken away and the burden of proof thereof is put on the accused… For any reason, if he fails to prove his innocence, he would straightway be liable to punishment, which would be minimum 10 years imprisonment with astronomical fine, and would lose his entire property by virtue of confiscation,” it said.

The court order effectively means that the liquor ban stands lifted till the state government notifies its latest amended Act — the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016. The court did not make any reference to this amended Act, which has been cleared by the Bihar Governor.

The state government claimed the order would not have much bearing as it prepares to notify its amended Act from October. “Now that the court order has come, the government will study it and use its discretion if any changes are to be incorporated,” said JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi. “Our government is committed to banning liquor,” he said.

Reacting to the court order, BJP legislature party leader Sushil Kumar Modi said: “We are with the government when it comes to imposing a liquor ban. But we are against the provisions of disproportionate punishment and giving unbridled powers to police”.

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  1. S
    Sirius
    Sep 30, 2016 at 12:22 pm
    I dont know about the law, but, its penal provisions will not stand up to scrutiny in SC. However, it will be interesting to watch Phat-eeshwa nose rubbed in SC ...
    Reply
    1. C
      Chander Pal
      Sep 30, 2016 at 11:57 am
      Liquor ban can not be sustained. Bansi Lal tried it in Haryana. It increases work load of police and other agencies. In Gujarat it has been forced for political reasons. Yet the ban should not be treated illegal but uninforcable.
      Reply
      1. M
        Munawar
        Sep 30, 2016 at 9:17 am
        A liquor ban is a clic example of too much Government intervention in private lives. No Govt can save a person from themselves and should not, its not the Govt's business.
        Reply
        1. S
          SubbuI
          Sep 30, 2016 at 9:29 am
          NITISH KUMAR SHALL FACE LOT MORE STRUGGLE TO BRING TOTAL PROHIBITION IN STATE. BUT HE MUST NOT GIVE UP. HE STILL CAN DELET THE OBJECTIONABLE RULES AND IMPLEMENT PROHIBITION WHICH IS VERY GOOD FOR BIHAR. lt;br/gt;ALSO I WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS THE STAND OF RSS AND THEIR DECIPLE BJP STAND ON PROHIBITION? IF THEY ARE FOR PROHIBITION THEN WHY THE BJP RULED STATE EXCEPT GUJARAT ARE NOT IMPLEMENTING IN THEIR STATES?
          Reply
          1. A
            Atul
            Sep 30, 2016 at 1:50 pm
            WFT is editor doing? First it is written "HC declared Act ulra virus". Then it is "Though the Act is not declared ulra virus". Then it is written "It means prohibition goes for now". What exactly you want to say man? And on top of it all is the phrase "ulra virus" which actually should be ULTRA VIRES. Wow. Am I reading nations leading newspaper?
            Reply
            1. H
              Harsh
              Sep 30, 2016 at 11:56 am
              virus??? Edited by Praveen Swami?
              Reply
              1. V
                Venkataraman Jagadesan
                Sep 30, 2016 at 11:21 pm
                Yet another hit on Mr Nitish's head and now the liquor gallery will take its revenge since they were made paupers by Mr Nitish. Banning of liquor is not possible when the neighboring states have no prohibition and this has been seen in all states where the Govt: had tried to enforceit. An unwise decision with draconian act had made Mr Nitish a laughing stock. Jai Hind.
                Reply
                1. s
                  sasidharan k.p
                  Sep 30, 2016 at 4:40 pm
                  Bihar in between Shahab and sharab.
                  Reply
                  1. M
                    manian
                    Sep 30, 2016 at 10:14 am
                    Nitish kumar also is chasing a mirage as someother crazy politicians.
                    Reply
                    1. A
                      Ashok Mazumdar
                      Oct 1, 2016 at 2:10 am
                      Nitish kumar wanted Ban to be lifted, but could not dare as it was ped in embly.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;So his Govt. Put a Poor Defence before the Court.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Lalu and his men, Bjp, Ram Vilaas Paswan are alcohol takers.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;All supported the move Silently.
                      Reply
                      1. A
                        Ashok Mazumdar
                        Sep 30, 2016 at 9:41 am
                        Since April this Year, I maintained that Nitish Has Gone Insane. Now Supreme court has verified that.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;He should now drink Kutta Murta and Bark Bhou Bhou Bhou
                        Reply
                        1. M
                          manu
                          Sep 30, 2016 at 8:11 am
                          the provisions of this law were such that it would never stand court's scrutiny, it was meant to be dropped since beginning. People who drafted this Act, don;t have even basic understanding of our consution and fundamental rights, they should be fired.
                          Reply
                          1. M
                            Mohan
                            Sep 30, 2016 at 1:14 pm
                            Nitish Kumar may not remain CM
                            Reply
                            1. M
                              Mohan
                              Sep 30, 2016 at 1:13 pm
                              Who is your elder ?
                              Reply
                              1. M
                                Mohan
                                Sep 30, 2016 at 9:24 am
                                Brainless wonders with vaulting ambition to become the PM are capable of coming up with mad schemes
                                Reply
                                1. N
                                  Niladrinath Mohanty
                                  Sep 30, 2016 at 10:29 pm
                                  Those who oppose prohibition love their peg too dearly and are utterly selfish.
                                  Reply
                                  1. M
                                    mtv
                                    Sep 30, 2016 at 11:04 am
                                    Another reminder to every politician to stop formulating policies for their political gains alone. People are much knowledgeable and wiser now. Similarly, one of the reasons why Oommen Chany led congress Govt. lost recent election in Kerala was also because Keralites understood they brought the ban on liquor policy not because they were concerned with people's problems but to get upper hand in their own political games.
                                    Reply
                                    1. K
                                      kunal
                                      Sep 30, 2016 at 8:11 am
                                      nitish is doing good to ban liquoer in bihar but he should be ensured to arrange some govt bars in every city on which only limited no of liquoer can be purchased in a month for a family this way liqouer ban can be continued as well as liquer addicted persons can be slowly contolled and could be shifted to drug addiction centres and with in 10 years it can be totally removed.
                                      Reply
                                      1. P
                                        P C
                                        Sep 30, 2016 at 2:23 pm
                                        So far medical sciences haven't declared alcohol to be a health hazzard, unless consumed in excess. But, dear , any thing , be it food or fruits,if consumed in excess can prove to be as fatal as liquor being consumed in excess. Medicines ,which save our life can take our life if consumed overdose. In this light ,would you suggest banning food, fruits and medicine as well? Liquor is harmful only when it is consumed in excess. Had liquor been is dangerous to health, can you tell me why army personals are allowed to consume it ? Dear, you should know that liquor does not fall under the categories of narcotics, which is banned all over the world.
                                        Reply
                                        1. P
                                          PRAVIN S
                                          Sep 30, 2016 at 11:45 am
                                          why then there is liqour ban in gujrat - how it is consuitinal
                                          Reply
                                          1. R
                                            RR
                                            Sep 30, 2016 at 9:43 am
                                            It is yet not clear if one can take drinks in bihar or not, after this ruling.
                                            Reply
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