A majority of experts feel that the existing laws, including the excise and taxation Act, and the India Penal Code (IPC), are toothless and fail to nail bars/pubs promoting underage drinking and smoking.
They are of the opinion that establishments flouting rules should be shut after cancelling their liquor licences.
According to them, exemplary punishment should be given to the manager and the owner of Buzzin Buddies pub, even as the duo is presently out on bail.
Asking for more stringent laws, former Delhi high court judge RS Sodhi said the prevailing excise and taxation laws should have more teeth to nail the offenders.
“In addition to cancellation of the bar licence, the owners should be subjected to civil death by blacklisting and not allowing them bar license ever. Steps of this kind would play a strong role in deterring and making others refrain from flouting excise rules,” he said.
However, the Gurgaon police have expressed their helplessness in taking stringent action against either the pub owner or the teenagers involved in Sunday's incident, and passed the buck to the excise and taxation department.
“The bars are regulated primarily by the excise laws and the bar owner was booked for violating the excise law of not serving liquor to customers under 25 years of age. Following the incident we have urged the district magistrate to invoke Section 144 to make sure that they put up signboards mentioning that liquor is not served to under-25 customers. We cannot do more than this,” said Gurgaon commissioner of police Alok Mittal.
“At the most, we can recommend withdrawal of the bar licence for flouting the terms and conditions of the licence and also slap monetary penalty. In the case of December 2010 when a similar incident was reported in Sahara Mall, our department had slapped a penalty of Rs. 80,000 on the defaulters and cancelled their licences,” said a senior excise and taxation department official.
Geeta Bhukkal, the state minister for education, women and child development, promised prompt regulatory action, while blaming the international-board schools for the fiasco.
“This is a very bad practice. I am trying to get the list of students caught at the bar from the Gurgaon officials. Strict action will be taken against such defaulters. Most of these children usually come out of these international-board schools,” said Bhukkal.