Updated: September 30, 2016 3:25:32 pm
The Patna High Court on Friday struck down Bihar government’s legislation which banned sale and consumption of liquor in the state. The Bihar Prohibition and Excise Bill -2016 was termed ‘illegal’ by the court which had provisions of strict punishment to prevent consumption of liquor.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had roped in 40 lakh JD(U) volunteers just a few days back to speak in favour of the ban. Political adversary turned coalition partner RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav had also extended his support to Nitish’s decision.
Bihar government also claimed that the blanket ban, which came in force on April 5, had led to a betterment in the situation in the state and crime rate had come down considerably in a short period of time. He also said that women were extremely supportive of this decision.
However, it also faced criticism from opposition parties and others. The provision that an entire family could be punished if one member faced a lot of flak. A complete ban on liquor in the state was used as a campaign promise by Nitish Kumar during the state assembly elections in 2015.
Here is how it happened:
On November 26, 2015, Nitish Kumar announced complete liquor ban in Bihar from April 1, 2016.
On March 31, 2016, the Bihar Assembly unanimously passed the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Bill 2016. The 1915 liquor bill was amended to add stricter provisions. The bill ensured a ban on country-made liquor in the state from April 1.
Just four days after prohibition on country-made liquor, the Bihar government extended it’s ban on IMFL brands ensuring a blanket ban on liquor in all towns and cities.
Under pressure from ally RJD, Bihar government on July 31 announced that ban on sale of toddy will be lifted.
On August 1, Bihar government made amendments to the four-months old bill and added stricter provisions. The revised bill included provisions like punishment for all family members and making the offenses non-bailable.
On August 17, a hooch tragedy in the Gopalganj area of the state claimed 18 lives. The deaths happened after people consumed spurious country-made liquor which was being sold illegally.
Within six months of the prohibition Bill coming into force, the Patna High Court on Friday struck down Bihar government’s decision.
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