The state has finally acknowledged that individual liquor permits, mandatory under the law if you want to drink or buy alcohol, are redundant, and is considering scrapping it.
“We all know these laws remain only in the rulebook, especially the usage of permits. So we have proposed to the chief minister at the Cabinet meeting that we scrap individual liquor permits. It is under consideration,” Shivajirao Moghe, state minister of social justice, said on Wednesday.
The social justice department does not have any data on the number of crackdowns on people who are buying or drinking liquor without permits. In Moghe’s view, there were none.
However, there are some benefits of issuing permits, especially when the police crack down on drink driving, Moghe said. “Anyone found drinking and driving or caught in an accident in a drunken state can be booked immediately if s/he does not have a permit.
That is one reason the decision to scrap it was kept on hold,” he said.
Such incidents can attract up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine up to Rs 50,000.
The idea of scrapping liquor permit follows close on the heels of the state government upping the drinking age to 25 years from 21, which was announced on June 1. Moghe does not see any incongruity in these two moves. “There are no contradictions. The fact is we do not have adequate enforcement staff in the home and excise departments to carry out permit checks,” he said. “We will rely on and support NGOs, women’s groups, religious trusts and the NCC in schools and colleges to increase public awareness on the issue.”