If you are 21 years old and looking for a job in a pub in the city, the Delhi Excise Act will allow you to do so.
But if you want to taste your first drink, you will still have to wait for another four years — till you turn 25.
Delhi Assembly passed the Delhi Excise Bill 2009 on Monday with a modification that would allow 21-year-olds to serve liquor at bars and hotels.
Congress MLA Rajesh Lilothia moved the amendment and argued that most youngsters finished graduation by 21 and need employment.
The Opposition’s demand for referring the matter to a select committee for further deliberation was turned down.
“This Act is aimed at containing hooch tragedies. Under the present Act, brewing illicit liquor and sale of hooch are all bailable offences. We propose to change this,” AK Walia, Delhi’s Finance Minister, told the House, replying to the Opposition’s protests that the new Bill encouraged a drinking culture.
Not just brewing of hooch or selling it will draw tough penalties, but drinking in public will now attract a fine of Rs 5,000.
At present, drinking in public attracts a fine of Rs 200. The Punjab Excise Act, 1914, is in effect in Delhi.
Drinking and creating public nuisance could get you prison term up to three months and Rs 10,000-fine for creating public nuisance.
For any owner of a liquor joint — whether a bar, theka (road side liquor vend) or nightclub — who allows drunken behaviour or anti-social elements to gather at his establishment, the penalty is still stringent.
The owner would attract a prison term of up to six months and a fine of up to Rs 50,000.
The Delhi Excise Bill, 2009, is based on the Model Excise Bill, 2005, circulated by the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
Under the Bill, all offences attracting a jail term of two years or more were turned non-bailable. It also introduces an incentive for informers who help in getting spurious or smuggled liquor caught.
“The informer would get an incentive of 20 per cent on the caught liquor,” said Walia.
“Any truck intercepted carrying smuggled or spurious liquor would be impounded and auctioned after three months,” he said.