Hotels and restaurants have demanded the abolition of the drinking permit system in Maharashtra, which they describe as an outdated tool, designed to harass them.
In Maharashtra, anyone who consumes alcohol has to obtain a permit, which states he is consuming the substance for reasons beneficial to his health.
According to members of the Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association (AHAR), the permit system has become a tool used to harass hoteliers as well as their patrons. “Maharashtra is the only state to have such an outdated system of permits. It has become a tool used to harass us, and used to serve vested interests,” said Sukesh Shetty, secretary, AHAR.
In the system, anyone entering a permit room has to possess a permit, irrespective of whether he or she is consuming alcohol. The Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 states that the permit holder can possess and transport 12 units of liquor. Even the legal age for alcohol consumption is 25 years. Anyone caught violating these conditions could face punishment up to five years, with a fine up to Rs 50,000. “Both consumers and hoteliers have to face action, if found without permits,” rued Shetty.
Patrons have denounced the permit system, calling it obsolete. “This is a classic case of fudging facts, as the permit says alcohol is being consumed on health grounds. The government is forcing people to lie, in order to get a permit,” said Amar Thakkar. Thakkar, who often consumes alcohol, said he has not purchased a single drinking permit till date, and even the restaurant he frequents do not insist that he purchase them.
Another source of ire among hoteliers is that they have to possess a licence from the city’s police department, in order to serve liquor. In case of vegetarian hotels, the authorities need registration certificates, while in the case of permits rooms, authorities need the public performance licence (PPL). “It is only hotels which need licences from the police, while all other commercial establishments are exempted,” said Shetty.
Fees for drinking permits:
1) Rs 5 for 1 day
2) Rs 100 for 1 year
3) Rs 1,000 for buyer’s lifetime
What the Bombay Prohibition Act,1949 states:
* Any person above the age of 25 years is eligible to obtain the liquor permit for preservation and maintenance of his health
* Purchase and drinking without a liquor permit is an offence under Bombay Prohibition Act 1949
* The permit allows the possession, consumption, or transportation of up to 12 units of alcohol (country and foreign).
* Fines for possession, consumption, or transportation of alcohol in Maharashtra without a permit is up to Rs 50,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.