Nitish proposes to relax prohibition law

Nitish proposes to relax prohibition law

 Nitish Kumar. PTI file photo

Drawing flak over the stringent provisions in the Bihar prohibition law, the Nitish Kumar regime has decided to make certain amendments in the Act. The law was earlier termed by the alliance partner BJP as “draconian”.

One of the few amendments proposed is to do away with the provision of seizure of property if people were found consuming alcohol on its premises.

The Bihar Prohibition and Excise (Amendment) Bill 2018 says that changes were being made “to stop misuse of provisions of law against the innocent and bring the punishment in proportion to the crime.”

The amendment bill has been circulated among the law-makers (for their suggestions) during the on-going monsoon session. “The Bill has 19 amendments which could provide succour to those violating the prohibition law,” said one legislator.

Once the proposed amendments are passed in the Assembly and a gazette notification is issued in this regard, the new prohibition law may find a first-time offender getting a bail from police station itself after paying Rs 50,000 as fine. For the second offence, the fine will be Rs 1 lakh and an imprisonment of up to five years.

There will still be some stringent provisions for those who will be found preparing or storing alcohol. The first time offenders will be slapped with a fine of Rs 1 lakh and five-year jail. The second offence will make him/her liable to be jailed for five years, besides a fine of Rs 5 lakh.

It is worth mentioning here that over 5.6 lakh liquor related raids have been conducted throughout the state ever since prohibition was enforced in Bihar in April 2016. Around 89,000 FIRs have been lodged for consumption of liquor or smuggling of banned product. And, till June 2018, over 1.5 lakh people have been arrested for violating prohibition.

However, of late, the Nitish Kumar regime had been drawing wide criticism after law enforcing agencies were found misusing the prohibition Act to settle scores.

“The provision of imposing community fine and externing offenders from the district will also be withdrawn,” the legislator added.

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