March 2, 2021 8:26:55 am
Tightening its noose against those selling spurious liquor, the government has decided to add a provision death penalty in law for the culprits by amending the Punjab Excise Act, 1914.
The Cabinet gave its approval to add Section 61 A and amendment of Section 61 and Section 63 and to introduce the Bill in this regard in the ongoing Budget session of the Vidhan Sabha.
Section 61-A, which has been inserted in Punjab Excise Act, 1914 as its the Sub Section (1), stipulates that whoever mixes or permits to be mixed with any liquor sold or manufactured or possessed by him any noxious drug or any foreign ingredient likely to cause disability or grievous hurt or death to human beings, shall be punishable by death.
In case of death, such guilty shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to twenty lakh rupees. In case of disability or grievous hurt, the guilty would be punished with imprisonment for at least six years extendable up to life imprisonment, and with fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakh. Likewise, any other consequential injury is caused to a person, guilty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, and fine which may extend to five lakh rupees, and in case of no injury caused, the guilty shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to six months and fine which may extend to two lakh and fifty thousand rupees.
This decision was taken during a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh here at CMO Monday afternoon.
A government statement said the Cabinet decided a systematic change in the Excise Act to introduce deterrent punishment to anyone indulging in such malpractices in wake of the tragedy in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran, whereby several lives were lost due to consumption of spurious and adulterated liquor last July.
It was felt to bring a paradigm shift to strengthen the Act to deal with cases sternly where due to consumption of adulterated or illicit liquor, death or severe injury is caused. The underlining objective of such provisions to be introduced in the Punjab Excise Act is to instil fear of law amongst the law breakers and to impose stiff punishment on the offenders.
The Cabinet also made a provision by amending Excise Act to provide compensation to the victims’ families by the manufacturer and seller of spurious liquor.
According to the Section 61-A (2) (i), the court may — if it satisfied that death or injury has been caused to any person due to consumption of liquor sold in any place — order the manufacturer and seller, whether or not he is convicted of an offence, to pay, by way of compensation, an amount not less than Rs 5 lakh to the legal representatives of each deceased or Rs 3 lakh to the person to whom grievous hurt has been caused, or Rs 50,000 to the person for any other consequential injury. Provided that where the liquor is sold in a licensed shop, the liability to pay the compensation under this section shall be on the licensee and further that no appeal can be filed by the accused unless the amount ordered to be paid under this section is deposited by him in the court.
Section 63 has also been amended to enhance the term of imprisonment in the existing provisions of the Act from one year to three years and amount of fine up to Rs 1000 to 10,000 for the offence of alteration or attempt to alteration of denatured spirit.
The Cabinet also gave approval to amend Section 61 (1) to enhance the term of imprisonment from three to five years under the chapter ‘Offences and Penalties’ of the Act for unlawful import, export, transport, manufacture and possession etc. of any intoxicant.
In order to strengthen the Section 61(1) (v) of the Punjab Excise Act 1914, the limit of foreign liquor has been reduced to 27 bulk litres from 90 bulk litres. At present, as per any person who unlawfully imports, exports, transports any foreign liquor exceeding 90 bulk litres on which duty has not been paid, will be punishable with an imprisonment not less than two years and a fine not less than Rs 2 lakh. It has been found that in most of the cases the volume of foreign liquor transported is less than 90 bulk litres.
Train tragedy victims’ kin to get jobs
In a major reprieve to the distressed families passing through acute financial crisis, the Cabinet gave approval to provide jobs in various departments/institutions to family members/heirs of 34 deceased of Amritsar rail tragedy as per qualifications by relaxing the existing norms as a special case.
It may be recalled that a train incident occurred on October 19, 2018 at Jaura Phatak in Amritsar district on the day Dussehra festival, in which 58 persons had died and 71 persons had got injured.
Since these family members could not be covered under the existing state policy and related instructions of November 21, 2002 for grant of jobs on compassionate grounds to them. Subsequently, on the proposal of Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, the CMO after detailed deliberations decided that one member of each of the 34 families of the 58 deceased be considered for a job in various institutions/departments of the State on the basis of their academic qualification.
Infra development fee
In order to boost the pace of infrastructure development in the state by levying special ID fee, the Cabinet gave a nod to introduce Punjab Infrastructure (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021 in the ongoing Budget Session.
To effect the imposition of Special ID Fee, an amendment to the effect would be made in the existing provision by inserting a new Section 25-A Levy of Special Fee, which stipulates: “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the state government may impose the Special ID Fee for purpose of which a special head shall be created under which the accrued Special ID Fee shall be collected and deposited to the Development Fund created under the provisions of Section 27(1).”
Land for Max hospital
In another important decision, the Cabinet gave its nod to transfer the 0.92 acre land of Health Department to 200-bed Max Hospital, Mohali for up-gradation their health services by adding 100 more beds, which would help to augment the healthcare facilities in the region.
A government statement said the government took the decision after conceding to the request of Max Healthcare Group. The Cabinet has taken this decision subject to certain conditions imposed by Finance Department.
The Health & Family Welfare Department has entered into a concession agreement with Max Healthcare to transfer the said land of Civil Hospital, Mohali. In addition to Rs 389.57 lakh on account of upfront fee of this land, the government would also be getting the additional revenue i.e. 5 per cent of the gross revenue, which would be generated by the Max with addition of 100 beds.
During the past 10 months amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the healthcare scenario has taken a huge turn towards private participation and support towards addressing the management and treatment of Covid-19 patients, the government statement said. The Health Department has been dependent on private facilities for sharing the patient load in the state and all private facilities have been encouraged to come forward towards supporting the government’s endeavours in managing the pandemic, especially in Level 3/ICU beds.
Amendment in Town Planning Act
In a bid to bring harmony with Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act-2016, the Cabinet approved to amend ‘Punjab Regional And Town Planning and Development Act-1995’, ‘The Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act-1995’ and ‘The Punjab Apartment Ownership Act- 1995’.
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