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Judicial officers’ paucity hits liquor law courts

Paucity of judicial officers seems to have delayed the constitution of special courts, mandated by law to try liquor ban related cases

patna Updated: Jan 12, 2017 11:49 IST
Arun Kumar
Arun Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Liquor Ban,Courts,Paucity
(Hindustan Times)

More than three months after the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, came into force, on October 2 last year, special courts mandated in the new law for trial of liquor related cases are yet to be constituted.

As per provisions of the Act, consumption or possession of liquor within the state, will lead to arrest under non-bailable sections and all districts will have special courts for trial of liquor-related cases. The special courts were to have a special judge and special prosecutor.

This has not happened even as arrests in such cases and recovery of liquor have remained unabated across the state. Sessions courts and chief judicial magistrate (CJM) courts are handling these cases, as before.

Excise commissioner AK Das told HT, the law department had been requested to pursue the matter, as the special courts have to be constituted by the Patna high court.

Principal additional advocate general (PAAG) Lalit Kishor said the request for special courts had been placed before the HC in writing.

"We have requested for one special court each in Patna and in all the other divisions. Till this happens, sessions court will hear such cases," he added.

Reached for a reaction, registrar general of Patna HC, PC Jaiswal, told HT that the matter was under process. "We have received the request from the government and a final decision in this regard will be taken by the standing committee," he added.

However, sources said shortage of judicial officers might also be a reason behind delay in constitution of special courts. Asked about this, Jaiswal said, "Scarcity of hands is a reality."

As per excise department figures, around 29,000 persons have so far been arrested in liquor-related offences across the state since April 5, when complete prohibition came into force. However, many of those arrested have obtained bail.

In another development, the state government has moved the Supreme Court for transfer of all cases against liquor ban law from the HC to the apex court.

"The apex court has issued notice and stayed the proceedings of the HC. They will be heard in the SC now," said Kishor.

The apex court had in October stayed the Patna HC's order quashing the old notification banning consumption and sale of liquor in the state.

"The SC has given further four-week time to the other side to reply," Kishor said.

On January 21, the Bihar government has planned a long human chain in support of addiction-free Bihar to strengthen its case for prohibition.

First Published: Jan 12, 2017 11:49 IST