Mizoram’s Legislative Assembly Thursday passed a new law to legalize the sale and consumption of alcohol with stringent restrictions after a five-hour debate involving two-thirds of all members to end 18 years of prohibition in the state.
At 5.52 pm, Speaker Hiphei declared the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Bill 2014, or MLPC, passed after all 33 Congress MLAs favored it even as the six opposition MLAs walked out of the house in protest a minute before the announcement.
MLPC will replace the Mizoram Liquor (Total Prohibition) Act of 1995 (implemented two years later) and allow the consumption, sale, retail, manufacture, storage and transport of various kinds of alcohol including country-made ones.
MLPC will however rely heavily on permits, including for buying alcohol, and also provide for fines and jail-terms for a plethora of offences — these jail terms vary from five days to five years, the longest term to include offences such as drunk driving, causing ‘nuisance’ and drinking in public places although magistrates would be allowed amnesty powers to commute both fines and offences to five-days’ community work.
MLPC will also empower any citizen to arrest offenders provided they hand them over to police or Excise and Narcotics officials;
“This is necessary because those who love the land and people and who volunteer and step up to keep vigil are empowered under the law,” said Excise Minister R Lalzirliana, who introduced the bill, perhaps in response to sustained opposition to the lifting of prohibition by influential mass-based voluntary organisations and the Church.