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Thursday, Dec 12, 2019

No drinks before 25, and none in public

In an election year, the Delhi cabinet has developed cold feet on lowering the drinking age to 21 from 25, reports Amitabh Shukla.

delhi Updated: May 13, 2008 02:28 IST
Amitabh Shukla
Amitabh Shukla
Hindustan Times

In an election year, the Delhi cabinet has developed cold feet on lowering the drinking age to 21 from 25. The cabinet on Monday also proposed stiff penalties for consumption of liquor in public places.

If you are caught drinking outside your home or a licensed pub — say, in your car, at a dhaba, or by the street, as many Delhiites do — you will be fined Rs 5,000. If you get drunk and create a "public nuisance", you could be jailed for three months. If you repeat the offence, you could get double the punishment.

As first reported by HT on Saturday, the Delhi cabinet on Monday decided to bring a law of its own to regulate liquor trade. The Delhi Excise Bill, 2008, will replace the archaic Punjab Excise Act, 1914, which has been governing drinking in the capital since 1939. The Bill will be placed before the assembly soon.

The cabinet considered lowering the permissible age for drinking from 25 to a more reasonable 21, but ultimately decided against it. "The issue is politically sensitive and we decided to postpone the decision in view of the impending assembly election," said a minister, who did not want to be named.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told reporters the age of drinking and purchasing liquor would not be brought down. Finance and Excise Minister AK Walia said the cabinet cleared all proposals except the one on drinking age.

The Bill proposes stiff penalties for bootleggers and illegal bottlers. The jail term could go up to 3 years, and the fine to Rs 1 lakh. Death by spurious liquor could invite a death sentence or life imprisonment.

If you bring in more than the permitted quota of liquor from an overseas trip or purchase it from smugglers, you could be jailed for six months, or fined Rs 1 lakh.