Liquor outlets on the porous India-Nepal border ran dry on Friday as tipplers from Bihar’s Raxaul and other villages crossed into the neighbouring country to have their fill after the Patna high court lifted the alcohol ban in the state.
Quashing the April 5 notification of the state government which banned the manufacture, consumption and sale of IMFL, a high court division bench comprising chief justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari and justice Navaniti Prasad Singh held the prohibition to be “ultra vires to the Constitution, hence not enforceable”.
Ramesh Bhatt, a shop owner at Bara in Nepal, said his stock of liquor exhausted within four hours of the high court verdict.
“At all entry points in Raxaul, Adapur and Ghorasan blocks under East Champaran district of Bihar, a large number of people were seen crossing over to Nepal, having a drink there and returning with two-three bottles of alcoholic beverages. For the first time in the last five months, there was no sense of fear among them of being caught,” Anil Kumar Sinha, a social worker at Raxaul, said.
Having already apprehended more than 2,000 people for violating the liquor ban, Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel and other security men patrolling the border with mobile breath analysers remained only mute spectators, he said.
District officials, however, declined to comment on the impact of the high court order in the border areas.
New liquor shops had sprung up in Nepal along the border and many enterprising Indians set up small restaurants in border towns to specially target Indian tipplers after the liquor ban in Bihar came into effect on April 5.
Many ended up spending the night in Nepal police lockups and pay hefty fines. In May, police in Rautahat district of Nepal said at least 70 Indian nationals have been fined Rs 1,000 each for drinking in dozens of shacks that mushroomed in the Nepalese territory along Bihar’s border with the Himalayan nation.
The Indian side had asked Nepal authorities to take stringent action against the booze lovers. In September, local administration along the border started dismantling the booze shops and issued several notices to the Indian nationals.