The Delhi government is considering bringing down the legal drinking age from the current 25 to 21, though only for consumption of beer and wine, sources said.
An excise department proposal submitted to the AAP government, however, intends to retain 25 as the age limit for hard liquor. A similar rule is applicable in Mumbai, which allows 21-year-olds to buy and drink beer.
A Delhi government spokesperson confirmed the proposal was being examined and a decision was yet to be taken by the government. A similar proposal had gone to the previous Sheila Dikshit government too but was rejected after it came in for sharp criticism from the opposition and her own cabinet.
In its proposal, the excise department cited the legal age for drinking in various countries as well as in other Indian states, where it varies between 18 and 25. The age limit differs in the NCR towns too — from 25 in Gurgaon to 21 for Noida.
“Forget about the rest of the world, within our country there are different age limits. While in Goa it is 18, in Delhi we have imposed 25 as the drinking age. In most countries, it is 18. By lowering the age, we are not trying to encourage drinking at all. But it will ensure a check on illegal drinking that takes place today,” said a senior Delhi government official requesting anonymity.
Sources said if the proposal is cleared by the cabinet, it is likely to be tabled in the Delhi budget for final implementation.