The Andhra Pradesh government has put a ban on bringing in alcohol from other states, issuing an order on Monday for enforcement.
The notification comes after the Andhra Pradesh High Court's direction to the government last month to let people carry alcohol into the state in the permissible limits.
Avowing a policy of reduced alcohol consumption “to improve the physical quality of people's life,” Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy has set several regulations last year that restricted alcohol availability in the state.
Removal of 43,000 belt shops (unauthorised liquor outlets), reduction of permitted outlets too from 4380 to 2934, scaling down of sales hours, permitted quantities and unavailability of usual, popular alcohol brands, have established a bootlegging business in Andhra Pradesh.
To eradicate illicit trade, Reddy's government had even constituted a Special Enforcement Bureau in May this year. According to the AP CMO officials, 48,182 cases of illegal transportation, unauthorised sale, processing of illicit liquor etc., were registered and 59,438 persons arrested till now.
However, few individuals who were booked by AP police for carrying in liquor bottles from Telangana approached the High Court contending that they were in possession of alcohol in the permissible limits as per the GO 411.
As per the order issued in September 2019, a person can have in his possession up to three bottles of any size of Indian Made Foreign Liquor, three bottles of foreign liquor, six 650 ml bottles of beer, two bulk litres of toddy. In a later government order, the beer allowance was reduced to three bottles.
"The court was right in basing its direction on those earlier orders. We have now brought in the new GO which explicitly prohibits the transit of even one bottle of liquor into the state, unless with a valid permit granted in advance,” Dr Rajat Bhargava, special chief secretary, Revenue Department told DH.
According to Bhargava, legal restrictions on interstate alcohol transit without payment of applicable duties, taxes, are in place from long in Andhra Pradesh and other states like Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu.
“Since we are restricting alcohol supply, there has been lot of smuggling activity from the neighbouring states defeating our prohibition idea, while denting our revenues too,” Bhargava says.