The Patna high court has quashed a Bihar government notification denying renewal of licences to pharmaceutical companies to manufacture ayurvedic and homoeopathic medicines containing alcohol.
A division bench of chief justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari and justice Samarendra Pratap Singh passed the order on Thursday after hearing the petitions filed by Samrat Chemical Industries and Shree Baidyanath Ayurved Bhawan Pvt Ltd. The court had reserved its order on April 26.
The petitioners had challenged the March 17 notification by which the Bihar excise commissioner had directed all district magistrates not to renew licenses issued under the Medicinal and Toilet Preparations (Excise Duties) Act, 1955 in view of the prohibition in force in the state.
Referring to various provisions of the MNTP act, the petitioners claimed that law was enacted by Parliament for levying excise duties on medicinal and toilet preparations containing alcohol. Their counsel Satyabir Bharti contended that medicinal preparations containing alcohol could not be equated with ordinary alcoholic beverages.
“Even Article 47 of the Constitution, which mandates that the state shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health, exempts medicinal preparations containing alcohol,” he said.
Referring to a judgment by the constitution bench of Supreme Court, Bharti said the state government or its agencies do not have the power to completely prohibit manufacture of ayurvedic, homoeopathic or other forms of indigenous medicines containing alcohol.
Meanwhile, Bharti claimed that following the HC order the manufacturing and sale of medicines containing alcohol, banned in Bihar since April 1, would now resume.
Principal additional advocate general (PAAG) Lalit Kishore, however, said the order, it seemed, had been passed on the basis of the old prohibition law.
With a new law in place now, the state government might file an special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the HC order, he added.