Murders are committed, does not mean law has failed: Nitish Kumar defends amended prohibition law
The Bihar assembly on Monday passed the Bihar Prohibition and Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2018 that seeks to rationalise the ‘harsh’ provisions of the existing law to protect the innocent from being harassed and to curb its misuse.patna Updated: Jul 23, 2018 23:31 IST
The Bihar assembly on Monday passed the Bihar Prohibition and Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2018, that seeks to rationalise the ‘harsh’ provisions of the existing law to protect the innocent from being harassed and to curb its misuse. The state government had introduced a complete ban on the sale and consumption of liquor on April 5, 2016.
Speaking on the Bill, moved by a minister amidst a walkout by the opposition that insisted on declaring the state as drought-hit, chief minister Nitish Kumar said, “There is no compromise on prohibition. Changes are being introduced for effective implementation of laws governing the liquor ban.”
Kumar, however, told the House that the charge that prohibition had failed as illicit liquor was still being seized and people were being caught consuming alcohol was misplaced. “Murders are committed, despite a law against it. That does not mean the law has failed. What is needed is greater social awareness,” he said.
The chief minister also dismissed the charge of loss of revenue on account of prohibition, saying the money earlier spent on liquor was now being used for better purposes, which was beneficial to all.
Kumar said the idea is to safeguard the innocent from being victimised and bring down the misuse of the law by those entrusted with the task to a bare minimum. “Several provisions are being rationalised and some others like imposition of collective fine, arrest of all major family members in event of liquor being found in a premise and externment are being scrapped,” the chief minister said.
Offences have been categorised to ensure proportionate punishment. First time offenders (in case of liquor consumption) will have the option to pay fine of Rs 50,000 or serve three months jail term instead of compulsory jail. Second offence will invite a fine of Rs 1 lakh or a one year jail term. Even the provision of property attachment of a rented premise has been looked into, he explained.
Now a premise has been clearly defined to protect a house owner from arrest. Similarly, in case of vehicle seizure, the government will come out with a clear set of rules to define circumstances under which it can be done, Kumar said, in an apparent reference to recent observation by courts.
Taking a dig at the opposition for not participating in the debate, Kumar said that he was expecting “some concrete” suggestions for making the law a more effective tool for social change. “But they seem to more interested in raising questions about the capacity of the poor to pay fine, instead of urging them to get rid of the vice and start the transition from destitution to a life of peace and self sufficiency,” he said.
The prohibition drive has the backing of all political parties, elected representatives and both houses of the legislature, he said. He added, “The capacity of jails in the state is 39,426. Currently, 39,087 inmates are in jails out of which only 6,937 are lodged in cases related to liquor.”
(With PTI inputs)
First Published: Jul 23, 2018 23:30 IST