Delhi’s drinking age too high? Court will decide
The plea claimed that 67% of the people in the age group of 18-25 years purchased alcohol from liquor vends, but were never asked to show their age proof, which has a corrosive effect on respect for the law.delhi Updated: May 27, 2018 11:26 IST
The Delhi high court on Friday sought a response from the Delhi government on a plea seeking the legal age for drinking alcohol to be lowered from the current 25 years. The plea said the current age limit discriminates against Delhi residents because the minimum legal age for alcohol consumption in other states is lower.
A bench comprising acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C Hari Shankar sought to know the stand of the Delhi government’s excise department on the public interest litigation brought by Kush Kalra, challenging Section 23 of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 that prescribes the legal age for drinking alcohol in the Capital.
A senior excise official said the department would reply spelling out its stand on the issue and substantiate the response with data. “We will submit the stand of the Delhi government in writing and corroborate our findings with data as has been asked by the court,” this person added, asking not to be identified.
According to the PIL, the legal age for drinking of alcohol in Uttar Pradesh and Goa is 21, and Rajasthan, 18.
The PIL said many Delhi residents aged below 25 travel to other states to consume alcohol.
“The circumstance of the disparity between different states regarding the age when a person is able to consume alcohol is historic and reflects previous cultural norms and expectations. This disparity has the potential for adverse consequences and encouraging disdain for the law. A person coming to Delhi from a state which legalizes drinking at the age of 18 years is likely to continue consuming alcohol, thus criminalizing their behaviour,” the plea contended.
The plea claimed that 67% of the people in the age group of 18-25 years purchased alcohol from liquor vends, but were never asked to show their age proof, which has a corrosive effect on respect for the law.
Experts and the police are divided on the lowering of the alcohol drinking age in the national capital.
Delhi Police’s traffic chief Depender Pathak said that a large number of crimes and accidents in the city are committed under the influence of alcohol. “The faculties of a person develop till the age of 25, and poisoning it at this age affects their decision-making abilities, leading to crimes of passion,” Pathak said.
Mujeed Ahmed, a road safety expert and the founder of the NGO Safely, said that if people in India are considered old enough to get married at 21 (for men) and choose governments at the age of 18, there is no reason for putting a higher age cap for drinking alcohol.
“The focus should be on safety. I see no harm in setting a lower age limit for drinking, but the government should make sure that at every pub or liquor vend identity cards are checked before selling alcohol,” Ahmed said.
The matter will now be heard on October 9.