Patna: Two days after the Patna High Court quashed its order on prohibition, Bihar government on Gandhi Jayanti Sunday came out with a new law banning liquor with more harsh provisions like arrest of all adults in the event of recovery of the contraband in their house. The government notified the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 to ensure that the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) as well spiced and domestic liquor continued in the state.
At a special Cabinet convened on Sunday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and other members of his Cabinet took a pledge that the government would continue with prohibition which is “ushering positive social change” in the state. Besides retaining many provisions of the previous one, the new liquor law has some more stringent provisions including enhancing duration of imprisonment, hiking amount of fine, arrest of all adults in case of recovery of liquor bottle from a house and collective fine on a place in case of habitual violation of prohibition.
Principal Secretary (Cabinet Secretariat) Brajesh Mehrotra usually briefs media about Cabinet decisions, but today the Chief Minister himself took the mike and answered all queries. The CM told reporters that the new liquor law, brought into force from today, would be a real tribute to the Father of the Nation when the state is readying to observe the centenary celebration of Gandhiji’s Champaran Satyagraha against British rule from the state in early 2017. The new liquor law came into force in Bihar barely two days after the Patna High Court had on Friday quashed its April 5 notification describing it as ultra vires of Constitution.
The new Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 after approval from both Houses of state Legislatures on August 4, got the consent of Governor Ram Nath Kovind on September 7 last.
The CM told reporters that after receiving the approval from Governor, the state Cabinet had in its meeting on September 14 last gave it a nod for notification from October 2. Principal Additional Advocate General Lalit Kishore who had attended a high level meeting convened by the CM hours after the HC order on Friday which had quashed its April 5 notification describing it as ultra vires of Constitution, made it clear that the Division Bench of Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmad Ansari and Justice Navnati Prasad Singh had quashed the April 5 notification on prohibition and did not say anything about the Amended Excise Act.