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13,000 beer bars in Maharashtra to close down from May 1

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Supreme Court’s (SC) judgment of banning liquor shops within 500 metres of state and national highways, in Maharashtra, 13,000 beer bars will be shut down from May 1.According to a Maharashtra excise department circular, the government will not give permission to open liquor shops adjoining state and national highways. “The earlier permissions for liquor shops at highways will be valid up to May 2017. After that, there will not be any renewal of liquor shops. This order will also be applicable for the liquor shops whose adjoining road goes through villages, towns and districts,” stated the circular. The copy of the circular is with DNA.The circular also reads that the advertisements which contains liquor signs and pictures will not be permitted to be displayed along state and national highways. “If there are any such advertisements, they have to be removed immediately. People should not see any liquor shop near the highways. Liquor shops will not be permitted within 500 metres of service road of highways. Besides, one day permits will not be given to hold parties and functions,” stated the circular.Senior government officials said that the apex court has said that more than revenue, the life of the person is most important. “Maharashtra annually earns over Rs 20,000 crore from the sale of liquor. More than 50 per cent revenue is generated from highways only. We may lose Rs 10,000 crore if the SC order is implemented in totality,” said a senior government official.Arrive Safe, an NGO had filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in SC with the aim of ending drunk driving. In its December 15 order, the SC gave the judgment that no liquor shops on national or state highways from April 1and existing licences of liquor shops won’t be renewed after April 1.”We will lose our livelihood with the implementation of this apex court order. The 60 per cent wine and other licences will get affected. We are trying to explore the legal remedy,” said Dilip Giyanani, Chairperson of the Maharashtra Wine Merchant Association.

Maharashtra: Govt to shut down liquor shops on national, state highways, says prepared to incur losses

Mumbai: Maharashtra government will implement the Supreme Court’s verdict of 15 December that directed all the states to shut down all liquor shops and vends on national and state highways.

State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar cited the rising number of deaths in road accidents in the state while stating that the liquor shops on state and national highways will be closed.

“Maximum number of deaths due to road accidents were due to drunken driving. The SC verdict effectively means that 12,967 liquor shops in the state that fall within the 500 meter radius will have to shut down after March 31, 2017,” he told reporters in Mumbai.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Asked about the contention of the liquor lobby about revenue loss, Mungantiwar said, “anyway they are not in the business of selling holy water.”

The minister also said that the Maharashtra government was prepared to incur the loss in its revenue and will implement the order of the apex court.

“Out of the total 16,856 deaths in 2015-16, 13,212 deaths were road accident deaths and again out of that maximum of them were due to drunken driving,” Mungantiwar claimed. Meanwhile, officials said due to demonetisation, the department anticipates a 4.88 per cent decline in revenue between 1to 20 December.

As per State Excise departments data, the department had fixed the revenue income out of liquor for 2016 at Rs 15,343.96 crore.

The department had posted a revenue income of Rs 1,024.57 crore in November 2015, whereas the revenue income in November this year was Rs 1,027.35 crore, a rise of 0.27 per cent, shows the data.

As per the data, between 1 December to 20 December, 2015, the department posted a revenue income of Rs 670.25 crore, while the revenue for the same corresponding period this December stands at Rs 637.57 crore, a deficit of 4.88 percent.

Out of the total 12,967 liquor shops that will face closure after March 31, 2017, Pune district has maximum of 3,932 establishments, officials said. Of these 2,499 are in Nagpur, 2,225 in Kolhapur, , 2,224 in Aurangabad, 1,480 in Konkan region and 1,347 in Nashik district, they said.

There are a total of 24,572 country liquor, wine shops, permit rooms, clubs, beer shops, beer and wine serving outlets in the state, said officials.

According to them, the government has also directed its Superintendents of State Excise not to approve One Day temporary licenses (FL-4) to clubs that come within the radius of 500 meters from the boundaries of national, state highways and service roads.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 22:18 IST

India can avoid tag of being accident capital of the world: Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The year 2014 alone witnessed 2.37 lakh road accidents on national and state highways across the country which had left at least 85,462 people dead and 2.59 lakh injured.These were the sensational findings in official statistics placed before the Supreme Court, which noted that as per 2009 data, India had reported the highest number of road accident fatalities in the world which clearly indicated that a road accident occurred every four minutes.India can avoid the tag of being the “accident capital of the world”, was how the apex court reacted on scanning the figures of vehicular deaths over the past several years while stressing on the need for “proper enforcement” of law preventing drunken driving.
ALSO READ Accident deaths: Tamil Nadu roads get dubious reputeThe apex court said proper enforcement of law was needed for a nation like India, which is on the cusp of economic development, to protect precious human lives from road mishaps specially due to drunken driving.The remarks were made by the top court in its December 15 judgement by which it ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national and state highways across the country while making it clear that licenses of the existing shops will not be renewed after March 31 next year.
ALSO READ India loses Rs 4 lakh crore annually due to road accidents: UN study”Human life is precious. As the road network expands in India, road infrastructure being an integral part of economic development, accidents profoundly impact on the life of common citizen. For a nation on the cusp of economic development, India can well avoid the tag of being the accident capital of the world,” a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said.The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, took note of the statistics placed before it by the government agencies, according to which total number of persons killed in road accidents on the national highways was 48,768 in 2012 which shot up to 51,204 in 2015.
ALSO READ Health Ministry to review emergency road accident careIn 2014, there were 1.24 lakh accident cases resulting in 46,110 deaths and 1.35 lakh persons injured in mishaps on the national highways while on state highways, the figure was 1.13 lakh accidents in which 1.24 lakh people were injured and 39,352 had been killed.”The expressways witnessed 4,208 accident cases, 4,229 injured and 1,802 deaths. Figures are also available of the distribution of road accidents by causes during 2014. 1.38 lakh persons were injured in road accidents involving dangerous or careless driving and 42,127 deaths occurred.”Injuries caused in accidents due to over-speeding stood at 1.81 lakh while there were 48,654 deaths. 7,307 accident cases involving driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol were registered resulting in 7,398 injuries and 2,591 deaths,” the bench noted in its order.The apex court further said that on December 1, 2011, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in an advisory issued to Chief Secretaries of all the States and Union Territories, had noted that India had reported the highest number of road accident fatalities in the world and data of 2009 indicated that a road accident occurred every four minutes.It said that in the advisory, it was said that drunken driving was a “leading cause” of road accidents as 27,152 road accidents was caused under the influence of alcohol in 2009.The bench said that in another advisory of March 18, 2013, the ministry had stated that in 2011, 1.42 lakh people were killed in 4.9 lakhs road accidents and 24,655 accidents were caused due to drunken driving resulting in 10,553 deaths and injuries to 21,148 persons.Referring to another advisory of May 2014, the apex court said that in 2012, 1.38 lakh people were killed in 4.9 lakh road accidents out of which 23,979 accidents were caused due to drunken driving resulting in 7835 deaths and injuries to 23,403 persons.The bench observed that availability of liquor along the highways is an “opportunity to consume” and there are alarming statistics on the occurrence of road accidents which have claimed human lives and caused debility and injury.”The figures which are available on the record indicate that the occurrence of a large number of road accidents is neither a phenomenon confined to national highways nor is prevalence of road accidents, including fatalities, confined only to the national highways.”Both the national highways and state highways share a common experience of an unacceptably high number of road accidents, the prevalence injuries and fatalities; drunken driving being one of the major causes,” it said.The bench observed that highways and expressways provides seamless connectivity and unheralded opportunities for growth of trade and industry and for the movement of goods, persons and capital and are the backbone of the freedom of trade and commerce guaranteed by Article 301 of the Constitution.”Our highways are dotted with sign boards warning of the dangers of combining speed and alcohol. Together, they constitute a heady cocktail. The availability of liquor along the highways is an opportunity to consume.”Easy access to liquor shops allows for drivers of vehicles to partake in alcohol, in callous disregard to their own safety and the safety of others,” the apex court said.The bench also said it was conscious that policy to discontinue liquor vends on national highways may not eliminate drunken driving completely.”The law on preventing drunken driving also requires proper enforcement,” it said, adding, “The existence of liquor vends; advertisements and sign boards drawing attention to the availability of liquor coupled with the arduous drives particularly in heavy vehicles makes it abundantly necessary to enforce the policy of the Union government to safeguard human life”.The apex court passed a slew of directions, including that all states and union territories shall forthwith cease and desist from granting licences for the sale of liquor along national and state highways and all signages indicating availability of liquor shall be prohibited on the highways.It said that no liquor shop shall be visible and directly accessible from the highways and it should be situated within a distance of 500 metres of the outer edge of the national or state highway or of the service lane.”All States and Union territories are mandated to strictly enforce the above directions. The Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police shall within one month chalk out a plan for enforcement in consultation with the state revenue and home departments,” it said.

Ban sale of liquor on all National, State Highways from 1 April: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national as well as state highways across the country and made it clear that licenses of existing shops will not be renewed after 31 March next year.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur also directed that all signages indicating presence of liquor vends will be prohibited on national and state highways.

The bench also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said the existing licenses of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after 31 March, 2017.

Last week, the apex court had expressed concern over 1.5 lakh fatalities every year in road mishaps, saying it may direct closure of liquor vends on national and state highways across the nation, besides removal of the signages indicating their location.

The apex court, while reserving verdict on 7 December on a batch of pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways, came down heavily on the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways if they are “elevated” ones and the vend are under or near it.

“Look at the number of licences you (Punjab) have given. Because the liquor lobby is so powerful, everyone is happy. The excise department is happy, the excise minister is happy and the state government is also happy that they are making money. If a person dies due to this, you give Rs one or 1.5 lakh. That is it. You should take a stand which is helpful for the society,” the bench had said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Reminding the state government of its constitutional obligation to prohibit liquor sale, the bench had asked the state to do something for general public considering that nearly 1.5 lakh people were dying every year.

The bench had also expressed unhappiness over alleged inaction by various states in removing liquor shops alongside roads which give rise to drunken driving and consequential fatalities.

It had said that revenue generation cannot be a “valid reason” for a state or a Union territory to give licence for liquor shops on highways and the authorities should adopt a positive attitude to remove the menace.

The bench had also rapped the Centre for not doing anything concrete for the last 10 years forcing the court to “step in”.

Earlier, the court had sought a response from the Centre, states and Union territories on the pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways.

Several pleas have been filed on the issue including the one which referred to the 2015 report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and said almost five lakh accidents occurred last year in India, killing 1,46,000 people and leaving thrice the number injured.

It was alleged that despite recommendation of a committee to ban of sale of alcohol on state and national highways, states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were sticking to their prevailing excise policies under which licences were being issued to liquor shops along the highways.

“An analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour.

“India being a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration, it is imperative that policy guidelines are framed to control road accidents. Also, the excise policies of Indian states and Union territories should be amended to conform to the spirit of Article 47 r/w Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” one of the pleas had said.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 13:00 IST

PM Modi’s note ban, Nitish Kumar’s liquor ban hit Bihar’s Beguserai district

In the age of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s bullet train, Bihar’s Beguserai district’s fascination with ‘Ranthi express’ was quite instructive, if not outright amusing. But what was Ranthi Express?

Ranthi Express was a brand of country liquor, brewed locally by liquor barons with huge political connections. The brew was so strong that one would metaphorically ‘drop dead’ after consuming just one pouch of the liquor. The consumer would be as good or worst as a corpse for a few hours after. And herein lies the reason from where this brew derived its brand – ranthi, in local parlance, refers to a stretcher used for carrying corpses.

Until Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar dealt a deathly blow to Ranthi Express, by imposing a liquor ban in the state, it was a craze among the delinquent and unemployed youth. Thousands were hooked on to the promise that one pouch of this liquor would transport its consumers to a blissful netherworld, beyond pain and anxiety.

Bihar's Beguserai district's fascination with 'Ranthi express' was seen as quite instructive, if not outright amusing. Agencies.Bihar's Beguserai district's fascination with 'Ranthi express' was seen as quite instructive, if not outright amusing. Agencies.

Beguserai’s fascination with ‘Ranthi express’ was seen as quite instructive, if not outright amusing. Reuters

Though bliss and netherworld may appear to be oxymoronic, Beguserai is a land of umpteen such paradoxes. This immensely fertile Gangetic plain of Bihar is now highly industrialised. It was called the Leningrad of Marxists till it fell to the saffron wave in the recent past. The rich and the poor co-exist amicably, as they have realised over the years that power does indeed flow through the barrel of the gun.

But the people of this land have now been hit by two bans: On the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes and on liquor. The denizens of the netherworld found both the bans to be quite devastating. Liquor barons have shut their shops and breweries have been locked. The roadside vends have turned into tea shops. People are not seen roaming on the streets in an inebriated state anymore, a sight which was common in the district till the ban on liquor was enforced.

“Accidents have drastically reduced and street brawls are less in number,” said Dr Hemant, who owns the Life line hospital in Barauni. The positive impact of the liquor ban is quite palpable in the district.

But what about the currency ban? Raj Kumar Singh, who runs the KDM Hotel and an agency for the Enfield motorcycle (commonly known as bullet) points out that life was initially hit but is now returning to normalcy. “Bihar is a low economy state where an informal economy does not allow the life to be disrupted substantially,” he said. In hotels, the business is picking up pace after an initial decline. But buyers for bullet motorcycles have increased two-fold. The reason for that is not far to seek.

In fact, those found in possession of excess cash rushed to the banks and deposited their money in substantial numbers in order to facilitate the purchase of the motorcycle. “They are coming with drafts and cheques to buy bullets (a motorcycle that symbolises masculinity in the region). “We expect to sell nearly 200 motorcycles this month, nearly double the sales of the previous month,” Singh added.

Similarly, in the low-economy rural areas of Beguserai, life has not come to a halt. People have found innovative jugaads (simple work-arounds) to run their economy. For instance, a large section of grocers and street vendors are still accepting the banned currency notes as most of them are confident that they would get the cash deposited in their accounts and get the money back when the situation normalises.

The biggest worry in the region, however, comes from the farmers’ inability to purchase fertiliser and seeds for the Rabi crop. But in Ramdiri village, barely ten kilometers from the district headquarter, villagers do not seem unduly alarmed over being cashless in their routine life. “In rural society, inter-dependence is so strong that we get support,” they point out. “Even micro-ATMs are functioning in the region,” they claimed, giving an air of self-assurance that didn’t appear to be contrived.

Yet some are worried about the agriculture. “If a situation of cash-crunch persists, it would hit the hard wheat sowing,” a farmer said. Do they foresee a disaster following the demonetisation? “Not at all, what we see in media is not reflected on the ground,” they point out.

However, a communist leader in the midst of the crowd rejected this optimism and pointed out that the move was ill-conceived and had caused misery for the poor.

In this cacophony of a debate, local BJP MP Bhola Singh took the discourse to another level. While speaking with Firstpost, Singh, known for his loquaciousness, closed his eyes and compared the present ordeal with a mythological parable.

“You see Kunti sought a blessing from Lord Krishna to give her perpetual sorrow in order to remember God,” he said. On being asked if Modi was Lord Krishna in his reference, he said, “No he is not, but this pain is for the good of people.” Singh is a known party-hopper who began his career as a communist and ended up in the BJP.

Close to Ramdiri village lies Simaria, the birthplace of Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, the famous bard who valiantly fought against the emergency and coined the phrase, “singhasan khali karo ki janata aati hai (vacate the throne, lest the people will come)”. In this erstwhile bastion of communists, the bans on currency notes and liquor are hardly frowned upon. In Bhola Singh’s hyperbole it is seen as a blessing in a curse.

First Published On : Nov 23, 2016 14:33 IST

Maha govt considering a two-bottle liquor limit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to crack down on the sale of illegal liquor, the Maharashtra government will soon come up with a resolution under which drinkers will be allowed to possess only two bottles of booze as against the current limit of 12 bottles. The move comes in the wake of misuse of the current limit, especially in rural areas, where instances of drinkers selling liquor from their permitted quota, hoarding of illicit liquor and selling it at cheaper rates have come to light.”This resolution (GR) is being done to check the sale of spurious and illicit liquor, especially toddy,” Excise Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule told reporters here today. Meanwhile, state Excise Commissioner V Radha said the demonetization of higher value currencies has affected the sale of Indian Manufactured Foreign Liquor (IMFL) by 25 per cent. However, demonetization has also resulted in rise in the sale of country liquor (CL-III) by 5 to 10 per cent, “which is also due to a heavy crackdown on sale of spurious toddy.” Radha said total value of seized liquor between April-October this year stood at Rs 19.83 crore, which is 21.56 per cent more than the value of the liquor seized at Rs 16.31 crore in corresponding period last year.She said excise revenue which was in negative at 2.06 per cent in April this year has now risen to 8 per cent in November.Specifying the measures undertaken on liquor front, the minister said, “The government has amended the 2008 orders and empowered Gram Sabhas to pass a resolution calling for the shops located within boundaries of villages to be relocated 100 meters away (outside the village limit). “If 50 per cent (of members) of Gram Sabha vote in favour of relocation then it is mandatory upon the shop owner concerned to relocate his shop 100 meters outside the village limits,” the minister said. Bawankule said the shop owner concerned will be given a year’s time to shift within and won’t be charged any fees. “However, if he fails to relocate his shop within a year, his license shall be cancelled,” he added. Replying to queries over the government’s proposed move to put Hologram stickers on liquor bottles, Bawankule said the decision will be implemented before January 26, 2017.”15 to 16 agencies have made their presentations to the government. The government will float tenders with the criteria that there should be no leakage of the hologram sticker,” he said, adding this will help the government in its ‘trace and track’ policy and keep a check on illicit liquor. Bawankule urged people to make use of the state Excise departments toll free no 18008333333 and WhatsApp no 8422001133 to lodge complaints on sale of illicit liquor and illegal distilleries in their area.Meanwhile, according to the Excise Commissioner, a total of 16,685 cases were registered between April-October this year, which is a rise of 10.58 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year.In the same period, the department arrested 9,469 people for illicit liquor trade, a rise of 29.59 per cent. “Between April-October this year, 44,740 litres of illegal toddy was seized, a rise of 100.76 per cent. In the same period, the department has seized 487 vehicles used in transporting illicit liquor, a rise of 15.95 per cent,” Radha added.

Nitish Kumar takes public opinion on prohibition law, rules out any compromise

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday heard opinion of people from different walks of life on the new liquor law in the state and said a joint sitting of the two houses of the state legislature would be called for a wider debate on prohibition.”After discussion with you all, a joint sitting of the two houses of the Bihar legislature would be called for a wider discussion on the new liquor law,” Kumar said at “Lok Samvad” programme where he heard the opinion of 40 select persons from different walks of life. “We want more discussion on prohibition which has yielded good result,” the CM said. Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav, Excise and Prohibition minister Abdul Jalil Mastan, senior ministers Bijendra Prasad Yadav and Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh, state police chief P K Thakur and Principal Secretary of Excise department Amir Subhani were present during the closed-door intercourse.The 40 select people, including lawyers, journalists, retired police personnel, doctors and professionals expressed their opinion as how to make the new Bihar Excise Act, 2016, which was notified on October 2 last, more effective. During the discussion, the CM categorically said there would be no compromise with the ban on liquor, spiced and domestic as well as Indian Made Foreign Liquor.Kumar said he wanted suggestions from people who had described the prohibition law as “draconian and a Talibani law” and alternative against stringent provisions. Kumar said that more than 16,000 people had been prosecuted under the liquor law, 80 per cent of whom were involved in illicit trade of alcohol.

Nitish dismisses speculations of moving back on the new liquor law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, on Wednesday, dismissed speculations of the state moving back on the new liquor law and asserted that there is no question of “diluting” after advertisements of excise department appeared seeking public opinion on it.Kumar categorically said there was no question of going back on prohibition or “diluting” the liquor law. “Prohibition has been enforced and will continue with all strength,” he said. His remarks came in the wake of excise department’s advertisment in newspapers seeking opinion of the public, particularly that of critics of the new Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 notified on October 2. Kumar said the government has invited suggestions till November 12 as to how to make the liquor law “non-draconian and non-Talibani”.”People will be invited on November 14 for suggestions which I myself will hear,” he said. Kumar had gone to Delhi, on Tuesday, to discuss the appeal filed by Bihar government in Supreme Court against quashing of the Prohibition of Liquor Act by Patna High Court with senior lawyer Gopal Subramaniam. He said he had discussed every aspect of the anti-alcohol law with him. “Gopal Subramanium has fully supported prohibition and is arguing for the state in Supreme Court at a token fee of Re 1 only. I had talks with him over telephone and I decided to meet him and discuss every aspect of the Excise Act with him,” Kumar told reporters.Principal Additional Advocate General Lalit Kishore, Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh and Principal Secretary to Home and Excise Department Amir Subhani had accompanied him, the chief minister said. The Bihar Chief Minister said a study on social and economic dimensions of prohibition is being conducted. Referring to allegations that he has no other work than prohibition, he said his Grand Secular Alliance government in the state had launched ‘seven resolves’ which started “20-25 new schemes for welfare of people”. Kumar launched a skill development scheme for youths to provide them better prospects in jobs. A total of 74 courses have been decided for sharpening skills of youths and would be implemented by different departments, he added.

Delhi Dy CM Sisodia raids East Delhi liquor shops with excise officials

Tue, 25 Oct 2016-12:20am , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia along with the officials of the Excise Department raided four liquor shops in Mayur Vihar Phase 2 on Monday evening and suspended the licence of one. The Deputy CM’s move came after some local residents complained about the liquor shops violating excise rules.”During the raid, it was found that out of four shops, two were being run on one license which is against the rules. The Deputy CM has ordered suspension of the license. The excise department has also sealed the illegal liquor shop,” said a government official.The Deputy CM, who heads the Excise Department, said he had received complaints from the locals that people drink alcohol in the open near these shops and Haryana-made liquor also is served. He said strict action will be taken against the violator.

Biggest IMFL seizure in Fatuha, dry Bihar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what is unquestionably the biggest seizure after the enforcement of total prohibition of liquor in Bihar, the state Excise department sleuths confiscated 1,100 cartons containing 10,500 litres of liquor during a raid near Fatuha in Patna district on Saturday.Acting on a tip off received by assistant excise commissioner (Patna) Krishna Kumar, the excise cops raided a godown in Fatuha Industrial Area where the smuggled Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) was being unloaded from a container truck. The truck as well as the liquor is from Haryana, according to the officials.The MRP of the contraband, containing popular brands of IMFL, is Rs two crore. However, it may be mentioned that in dry Bihar, the value of one bottle of alcohol increases several times if a smuggler illegally manages to provide it to a customer, sources said, adding, “This huge amount of liquor may have been smuggled keeping the Diwali festival in mind.” Bihar enforced total prohibition on April 5, but a harsher liquor law came into effect on October 2.”An FIR has been registered in this matter. Six people, including the kingpin and godown owner Anil Kumar Gupta, have been arrested and investigations are underway,” officials said.

SC stays Patna HC’s order quashing Bihar’s ban on sale and consumption of liquor

New Delhi: In a relief to the Nitish Kumar government, Supreme Court on Friday stayed the operation of Patna High Court judgement quashing the state’s law banning sale and consumption of all types of liquor, saying liquor and fundamental rights “do not go together”.

File image of Supreme Court. AFP

File image of Supreme Court. AFP

A bench of justices Dipak Misra and UU lalit also issued notices to all the respondents including some liquor manufacturers, on whose plea the high court had held as illegal and unconstitutional Bihar government’s prohibition law and posted the matter for hearing after eight weeks.

“Liquor and fundamental rights do not go together,” was how the apex court observed before passing the interim order on the appeal against the high court’s verdict. “As an interim measure, it is directed that there shall be stay of operation of the judgement and order passed by the division bench of the Patna high court,” the bench said.

Bihar government has challenged the high court verdict of 30 September which had quashed the notification banning consumption and sale of liquor in the state. However, after the law was set aside, the Grand Secular Alliance government came out with a new law banning sale and consumption of liquor, which was notified on the Gandhi Jayanti day on 2 October.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, assisted by advocates Gopal Singh and Keshav Mohan, told the bench on behalf of the state government that after high court’s order, Bihar has notified a new law on 2 October which repealed the old legislation. “The new law is not under challenge. The high court judgement was in relation to the old law,” he said.

Senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for one of the liquor manufacturers, said “this judgement (which is under challenge) is not operational. It is supplanted by a new law. Now, there is nothing to be stayed.” He was opposing the appeal of the state government by submitting that a new law has been notified on 2 October.

There were a battery of senior lawyers, including CS Vaidyanathan, Rajeev Dhawan and Balbir Singh, who appeared to oppose the Bihar government’s appeal raising the issue of fundamental right of equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution.

Bihar govt moves Supreme Court on Patna HC’s order quashing ban on liquor

New Delhi: Bihar government on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Patna High Court order quashing the notification banning consumption and sale of liquor in the state. The appeal against the high court’s 30 September decision
was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur which agreed to give Bihar government an urgent hearing on Friday.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The petition, which was mentioned through senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan and advocate Keshav Mohan, urged the apex court to stay high court order, quashing the government notification to ban liquor. However two days after the high court quashed the order on prohibition, Bihar government on Gandhi Jayanti came out with a new law banning liquor with harsher provisions like arrest of all adults in the event of recovery of the contraband in their house.

In its notification, the government notified the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 to ensure that the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) as well spiced and domestic liquor, continued in the state.

While assailing 30 September high court verdict, Bihar government urged the court to decide whether State can impose absolute prohibition on distribution and consumption of liquor and whether an individual can claim right to consume liquor as his or her fundamental right under the Constitution. It claimed that as a consequence of the high court order, the state government’s efforts to bring complete prohibition on liquor, in performance of its constitutional obligations, has been frustrated.

Patna HC strikes down Bihar govt’s prohibition law, terms it ‘illegal’

Patna High Court on Friday struck down Bihar goverment’s prohibition law, terming it “illegal”.

A division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari and Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh quashed the 5 April notification of the state government to stop consumption and sale of alcohol in the state.

File photo of Nitish Kumar. PTI

File photo of Nitish Kumar. PTI

The 5 April notification is ultra vires to the Constitution, hence not enforceable, the court said in its verdict.

The same bench had on 20 May reserved its order on a batch of writ petitions filed by Liquor Trade Association and many individuals challenging the liquor law in Bihar brought by Nitish Kumar government with stringent penal provisions.

The stringent Bihar Excise and Prohibition Bill, 2016 was passed on 1 August in the state Assembly by voice vote amidst boycott by Opposition over the state government’s rejection of their proposals.

On the provision of arrest of family members in the event of liqour bottle being found at their house, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had earlier said that only adult members will be penalised on the premise that somebody in the household must be knowing as to who has brought the liquor.

The Bihar government had also earlier banned the sale of toddy, which is considered the poor man’s beer and regarded as a natural juice.

This move was opposed by the people, including by ally RJD’s chief Lalu Prasad as well as the opposition BJP and its allies.

According to RJD leaders, Lalu was not in favour of banning toddy. Lalu Prasad as Chief Minister in the early ’90s had declared toddy tax-free in Bihar to help the people engaged in the business, particularly the ‘Pasi’ caste Dalits.

In view of increasing pressure from Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar decided to lift the ban on the sale and consumption of toddy, something which points out the huge role which the JD(U)’s alliance with RJD plays when the Bihar government is forming policies.

After imposing prohibition, commercial tax revenue in the state also witnessed a sharp dip. According to India Today, the state government’s commercial tax revenue went down from Rs 3,666 crore in the first quarter of the last fiscal year to Rs 2,372 crore in the same period this year.

The excise revenue also decreased from Rs 897 crore in the same period last year to Rs 42 crore this year.

In the last fiscal year, the state government was earning around Rs 5000 crore only from the sale of liquor in the state.

Defending prohibition in Bihar, Nitish Kumar had also said that crimes like rape, murder, dacoity, road accidents, theft and extortion had come down since April this year, even though there has been a sharp rise in cases registered under the excise law.

With inputs from agencies

Patna High Court strikes down Bihar govt’s Prohibition of Liquor Act, terms it ‘illegal’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a major blow to Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar, the Patna High Court on Friday struck down the state’s Prohibition of Liquor Act. The court termed the act as ‘illegal’, reported ANI.On April 5, 2016, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had announced a complete ban on alcohol in the state with immediate effect. Fulfilling a promise he had made to women before the assembly elections in the state, Nitish Kumar had on November 26, announced his plan to effect a liquor ban in the state.In June this year, Nitish Kumar had claimed that there has been a drastic decline in the percentage of crimes in the two months after complete prohibition was imposed in the state. “Heinous crimes have come down by 15% in last two months,” he had said.Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also dismissed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwani Upadhaya’s plea, seeking a complete ban on liquor across the nation.

Prashant Bhushan questions Kejriwal’s ‘anti-people’ liquor policy, say it has no legal sanction

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Firing a fresh salvo at Chief Minister Arvind Kerjriwal over “anti-people” liquor policy, former AAP leader Prashant Bhushan asked on Sunday whether he will resume opening of liquor vends after one year when the MCD and Punjab elections are over. Questioning why opening of liquor vends has been suspended only for a year, he demanded shutting down of such shops which were opened without approval from local residents.The Swaraj Abhiyan founder said there was no legal sanction granted to Mohalla Sabhas to close the liquor vends and accused Kejriwal of misleading the people. “Why has Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s announcement of not opening any new liquor shops been made only for one year. Does Kejriwal want to resume his anti-people liquor policy after the MCD elections in Delhi and Assembly elections in Punjab,” he said at press conference in Noida.Earlier, Abhiyan had alleged that 58 wine shops have opened up in Delhi ever since the AAP government came to power and had demanded closure of shops where people were opposing them. Announcing the new excise policy, the government had said no new liquor shop except in malls, will come up in Delhi in the current financial year and the mohalla sabhas will be empowered to shut existing neighbourhood vends if there are complaints of “nuisance”.”What is the legal sanction behind the CM’s declaration about the role of Mohalla Sabha in closure of existing liquor shops. The Delhi government has no interest in passing the Swaraj bill which would have granted the legal sanction to the units of Mohalla Sabha,” he said. “Why is the government trying to mislead by saying that Mohalla Sabhas will have the power to remove liquor vends when the fact remains that no such powers have been granted yet,” he said.”Further liquor shops should be allotted only after approval from Mohalla Sabhas, instead of shops being opened first and then closing or transferring them if Mohalla Sabhas oppose them. Only those shops should be advertised which have sanction of Mohalla Sabhas,” Bhushan said. He termed the recent newspaper advertisements and announcements regarding Mohalla Sabhas as “political rhetoric meant for media consumption”. He claimed that the Delhi government, in four RTI replies, gave different figures for the number of new liquor shops opened by AAP government since it came to power and asked the reason for the varying numbers. “The superficial exercise with no substantiative legislative step of forming Mohalla Sabhas in Delhi is being used as a cadre building exercise for upcoming MCD elections,” Bhushan said.Claiming that Kejriwal has made a sudden U-turn on the draft excise policy under pressure of Swaraj Abhiyan’s campaign, he asked if Delhi government would share the draft in public domain, for a week, for general public’s suggestions before releasing it, as the formal policy declaration has already been delayed. He said a public hearing will be held by Swaraj Abhiyan on August 23 at the liquor vend in Khajoori (Karawal Nagar) and demanded that at least 11 shops identified by Mohalla Sabhas be closed immediately.

Liquor addicts cannot perform Yoga: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar

Ahead of the International Yoga Day on June 21, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday said the ancient discipline is “irrelevant without imposing ban” on sale of liquor across the country and appealed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to act in this regard.”Yoga is a natural treatment process but liquor addicts cannot perform it. Yoga would be irrelevant unless a ban is imposed on sale of liquor across the country,” he said at meeting in Palamau district in Jharkhand.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Apparently hitting out at Modi, who had actively participated in the International Yoga Day event last year, Kumar said, “I have been doing Yoga since childhood but have never publicised it.” He also accused BJP of turning the International Yoga Day event a “party affair”.”Ban on sale of liquor in Gujarat prevailed since Independence and Modi had no role in it. Hence, he should not try to take credit for it,” Kumar said.”In a democratic system like ours, welfare of the society should be the priority over trade and business,” he said, adding his government has decided to forfeit Rs 5,000 crore revenue being generated by sale of liquor.”There are other avenues to generate revenue,” Kumar said, adding if conducive atmosphere prevails and law and order is maintained, adequate revenue can be generated by promoting trade, business and industry.”While I have decided to impose ban on sale of liquor in Bihar, Jharkhand government has increased liquor quota in the bordering areas to generate revenue in violation of the 1915 Excise Act, which prohibits sale of liquor within a limit of 3.6 km from the area under purview of the ban,” he alleged.”I had apprised Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das of my government’s decision to impose ban on sale of liquor from April 1, vide a letter dated January 18 and sought cooperation from him to make it a success, but his government did not cooperate,” he claimed.Referring to switching over of six JVM MLAs to BJP, Kumar, who was accompanied by JVM chief Babulal Marandi at the meeting, alleged, “BJP can stoop to any level to grab power”.Speaking on the occasion, Marandi said, “Opposing ban on liquor sale on the pretext of tribal culture is an insult to the community.”JMM supremo Sibu Soren had launched a movement against sale of liquor and money lending in 1970s and JVM, with the support of Kumar, would continue to pressurise Jharkhand government to ban sale of liquor in the state, he said.

SC declines to stop water supply to breweries in drought-hit parts of Maharashtra

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to direct the Maharashtra government to completely cut water supply to distilleries and breweries in the drought-hit regions of the state.

A vacation bench of Justices P C Pant and D Y Chandrachud pulled up the petitioner for approaching the apex court for a complete ban on water supply to the liquor manufacturers, saying the Bombay High Court has already passed an interim order in this regard.

“Why are you coming against an interim order of the High Court? The High Court has already allowed 60 per cent, now what do you want? These are all policy decisions. There has to be a balance,” the bench said.

File photo of Supreme Court. ReutersFile photo of Supreme Court. Reuters

File photo of Supreme Court. Reuters

The counsel appearing for petitioner Sanjay Bhaskarrao Kale, said the entire region is severely drought-prone and there is a policy in this regard.

To this, the bench said these are all policy decisions and the court’s interference will be like taking over governance.

The apex court dismissed the petition as withdrawn after the counsel agreed to withdraw the plea. The court, however, granted the petitioner the liberty to approach the High Court.

The Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court had recently asked the state government to curtail water supply to the liquor industry by 60 per cent from 10 May, an order which will be operational till 27 June.

The plea filed in the apex court had sought that instead of a curtailed water supply, there should be no supply at all as the entire region is facing acute water shortage.

The petition had said that people were dying in the region due to the shortage of water and there is a limited water stock available.

The counsel for the petitioner had said people were being deprived of drinking water as it is being given to the liquor industry.

Earlier, the Bombay High Court had also asked the Maharashtra government to cut supply to other industrial units in Marathwada by 25 per cent after 10 May.

Rocky road ahead: JD(U)’s Manorama Devi absconding, suspended for storing liquor

Manorama Devi, Bihar MLC and mother of Rocky Yadav (accused of murdering a teenager), has been absconding after the state government issued an arrest warrant against her on Tuesday, for storing liquor bottles in her house thus defying the state wide liquor ban imposed by Nitish Kumar.

Possession of liquor in the state under the new law entails a minimum imprisonment of 10 years which may extend to life imprisonment and a fine up to Rs 10 lakh.

Manorama DeviManorama Devi

Manorama Devi

The JD(U) has suspended Manorama from the party for possession of liquor as well as for shielding her son Rocky Yadav – accused of murdering teenager Aditya Sachdeva, according to India TV.

The report further said that her suspension came shortly after Bihar CM Nitish Kumar returned to Gaya from Dhanbad. Her security cover has been withdrawn and she was, in fact, present at when the police raided her house on Tuesday night.

At least six bottles of Indian Made Foreign Liquor were recovered from her residence in AP colony house, where the police had gone looking for Rocky, in connection with the Gaya road rage death case, reported Zee News.

A directive to arrest Manorama Devi and seal her house had been issued to the Gaya district administration by the state excise deparment, the report further said.

The suspension and issuing of arrest warrant of Manorama Devi, therefore, not only legitimises the CM’s resolve but also indicates that the JD(U) is aiming to blunt criticism of favouritism and shielding of the MLC in the controversial case, as reported by Hindustan Times.

Gaya Police has also registered fresh cases against Rocky Yadav and his father Bindi under the new excise act after recovering the liquor bottles from Devi’s residence.

Rocky was arrested on Tuesday, for the murder of Sachdeva, a 19-year-old schoolboy. Sachdeva was shot dead, after his vehicle had reportedly overtaken Rocky’s range rover on the night of 7 May.

“In his statement, Rocky Yadav admitted to committing the crime. I assure you that we will soon arrest others who were involved in the crime,” Gaya’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Garima Malik had told reporters.

His father, Bindi Yadav, a criminal-turned-politician, was with him in the car along with a bodyguard when the crime took place. While Rocky had been on the run since the incident, his father and the bodyguard were arrested and sent to 14 days’ judicial custody on Monday by a local court. Bindi Yadav had also claimed that Rocky had fired from his pistol “by mistake”. Eye-witnesses, Sachdeva’s friends who were in the same vehicle as the victim, though, contradicted this claim and explained how Rocky Yadav had threatened them just because their car had overtaken his.

Bindi Yadav too has had a criminal record. He was earlier arrested after a huge cache of AK-47 cartridges was seized from him.

The killing had reverberated inside and outside parliament as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) President Nitish Kumar for allowing the “return of jungle raj” in the state. The BJP had called a shutdown of Gaya town on Monday.

Nitish Kumar, in response, had said his government will not spare anyone found guilty of the crime as no one is above the rule of law.

Bihar prohibition: Rich haul of liquor seized in month-long drive

Patna: Over 39,000 litres of country-made liquor and 15,000 litres of India Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) have been seized across Bihar in a month-long drive since total prohibition was introduced on 5 April.

As many as 1,309 persons have also been arrested while 1,500 cases of violation of prohibition law have been lodged across Bihar during the drive.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. AFP

Nitish Kumar-led government imposed a blanket ban on liquor from 1 April. AFP

The Nitish Kumar-led Grand Secular Alliance government had first banned the manufacture, trade, sale, consumption of country-made liquor since 1 April, but later imposed a blanket ban on all types of liquor including foreign liquor in the state.

Altogether 19,076 raids were conducted across the state, of which 6,092 were conducted by excise department personnel, 11,367 by the police and 1,617 by the rail police, it said.

A close vigil was being kept on trains and flights coming to Bihar and if anyone is found taking or possessing liquor, he/she would be be arrested.

In Jayalalithaa’s constituency it’s angry women v/s drunk men

The sounds of constant skirmishes between drunken men and their wives permeate the air in the narrow and heavily congested by lanes of DG Colony, part of the RK Nagar constituency in Chennai. The sight of men, some as young as 15 years, walking drunk with saliva dripping from their mouth is not uncommon either.It would have passed off as just another day in this colony of ice factory workers, port coolies and fishermen. But this time, both J Jayalalithaa and her bête noire M Karunanidhi have promised to do a Bihar in Tamil Nadu if voted to power. Both have promised to introduce prohibition in the state. This poll promise has the women of RK Nagar excited, and the men scoffing at it as a “draconian poll promise.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>RK Nagar is a star constituency, with AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa contesting from here. After being forced to step down as Chief Minister in 2014, following a court verdict on her culpability in the disproportionate assets scam, Jayalalithaa made a comeback in 2015 by winning the by poll from RK Nagar.With Jayalalithaa promising to introduce prohibition in phases, her own constituency might be a test of whether a state so heavily dependent on revenue from the sale of liquor can introduce prohibition.A study done by an organisation Satta Panchyata Iyakkam (SPI) in 2015, estimated that almost one fifth — 13 million of Tamil Nadu’s 68 million population — is alcoholic. The study estimated that the state lost almost Rs67,000 crore due to health issues arising out of rampant alcoholism while gaining Rs25,000 crore from the sale of liquor every year. The study highlighted the problem among lower income groups where women bore the repercussions of the state’s burgeoning alcoholism phenomena.None would know it better than Jayanthi (34), a mother of three. She works as house maid earning around Rs4,000 a month while her husband works as a driver bringing home Rs9,000 a month. “My husband comes home drunk every evening. On days he does not work he is outside the liquor store at 10am while I am lining up outside the ration store” says Jayanthi. The economic repercussions of alcoholism in the state becomes evident in the case of Jayanthi. Her husband gives her Rs3,000 which is almost a third of his salary “for running the house”. Out of the money, she pays Rs2,500 as the rent for their two room tenement. She then digs into her own income to spend on food, education and medical expenses.As the conversation carries on, we are joined by a few men and women. One of the men, Parthiban, in his early 50s says, “Men here do back-breaking work. It is not the state’s responsibility to tell men what to do after they have worked 10 hours day loading and unloading goods at the port.”Jayanthi, quite aghast at the suggestion, tells him, “Your time is over. You have drunk yourself to death. In this colony young children have started drinking. I am worried about the future of my own kids if I were to stay in such an environment.”A few steps down the street is the house of Sulekha (31), a mother of two infants. Her husband is a port coolie and a regular drinker. She says, “He reacts violently when nudged to stop drinking and contribute more to the household. He has done considerable damage to his shoulders from the heavy lifting he does at the harbour. He says he drinks to ease the pain.”When women are asked whether they support Jayalalithaa’s promise to introduce prohibition in phases or Karunanidhi’s promise to enforce total prohibition in a single stroke, most support the latter’s stance. Sulekha adds, “We will vote for whichever party shuts the liquor shops. It doesn’t matter how they do it, but they should be closed permanently.”It is quite ironical that in this particular division of Jayalalithaa’s constituency, the number of liquor vending shops has doubled from three to seven during the time she was in power.Just across the street is the house of local DMK member and a fisherman V Ramesh. He points towards his nephew Shekhar, who is visibly drunk, his mouth frothing at the edges. “Look at him. He lines up outside the liquor store every morning and does nothing throughout the day. But prohibition is not the solution. In fact I can assure you that the party which enforces prohibition will be thrown out of power. The state is running on liquor revenue.”Desappan (38), a transport business owner adds, “Women vote for a party which gives them the most money and biryani. Men in RK Nagar vote only for the party which gives them their promised quota of liquor.”With RK Nagar having some 500 more women voters than men, Jayalalithaa may have a hard time keeping her poll promise.

Kerala Assembly polls 2016: LDF poll manifesto says liquor abstinence its policy

CPI(M)-led LDF on Tuesday made it clear in its election manifesto that liquor abstinence is its policy and it would raise the age limit to 23 years for liquor consumption in the state.”Lessons about anti-liquor awareness will be included in the school curriculum from 8-12th standard. The age limit for liquor consumption will be raised to 23 years,” it said.Promising a corruption-free, secular and developed Kerala, the manifesto guaranteed employment to 25 lakh people in different sectors including IT, Tourism and small scale industries, house and toilets for all, power supply in all houses by 2017 and creation of an exclusive department for women. It also said all welfare pensions would be increased to Rs 1000 and also promised a comprehensive health insurance scheme to all.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The manifesto, which gives thrust for social security, health, education and environment sectors, was released by front convenor Vaikom Viswan at a press conference.Indicating that the left front prefers liquor abstinence rather than total prohibition, which the Congress-led ruling UDF advocates, the manifesto said “the LDF government will take various steps to reduce the availability and consumption of liquor gradually, if it comes to power.”Liquor policy is a major debating point in the state after the UDF government had closed down more than 700 odd foreign liquor bars, below the category of five star hotels, as part of its policy in 2014.Asked whether the bars, closed during the UDF regime, would be opened if LDF comes to power, Viswan said these bars had been converted into beer and wine parlours and “so how can we say that the bars have been closed in Kerala?” Referring to granting of license to more five star hotels to serve foreign liquor, he said this showed that the UDF’s propaganda that it stood for total prohibition was a “lie”.”Revenue from liquor sale has only increased during this period. Besides this, illicit liquor is flowing in the state. The liquor consumption has also gone up,” the leader said.On the liquor policy, the manifesto mentioned that a mass people’s campaign programme, similar to the one organised by LDF government previously to achieve total literacy in the state, would be conducted to create awareness about ill-effects of alcohol.Among other things, the manifesto said a Kerala-based bank would be opened by linking the district and state co-operative banks in the state.

Does that bottle contain spurious liquor? Now you can find out

Liquor bottles will have to carry holograms with bar codes and track-and-trace features in Maharashtra soon. Even bottles of alcoholic beverages imported from other states and countries will have to carry them. Maharashtra has 159 liquor manufacturers, making beer, wine, IMFL and country liquor. Excise officials said that the mechanism is likely to be in place by July or August.”Consumers will be able to check if the liquor is authentic by using an app on their smart phones. If they don’t have smart phones, they can SMS the 10- or 12- digit code on the tag to a dedicated number (to know if the bottle is authentic),” an official said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”When people buy a bottle of premium scotch for Rs 5,000, they have the right to know if it is original or not,” he said.The hologram will have around 20 overt and covert embedded security features. It will help trace a bottle’s journey from the manufacturer to the retailer, gather market intelligence and plug revenue leakages of around Rs 1,000-3,000 crore annually.Maharashtra’s annual liquor consumption is around 300-400 crore bottles (85 crore bulk litre). For 2015-16, the excise department had set a Rs 13,500-crore target. With other duties like VAT, the total collection is in the range of around Rs 18,000 crore now, said excise minister Eknath Khadse.Though around 21 states have launched the hologram- based system, the one in Maharashtra will be technologically advanced, officials claimed.State officials are aware that there have been reports of fake holograms and Delhi stopped buying them from private companies.Rajesh Kumar, principal secretary, excise deparment, said that, in Maharashtra, the holograms will be manufactured by private players in the premises of the department or under its watch.The state will issue tenders for the holograms, expected to cost around 30-50 paise per unit. This will have to be borne by liquor manufacturers.Though the demand for the hologram-based system has been long-pending, it is the recent hooch tragedy at Malvani, where over 100 people lost their lives, that gave an impetus to the project.Maharashtra follows a policy of discouraging liquor consumption through high prices and excise duty. This leads to liquor being smuggled in from neighboring states like Goa and Daman.Khadse said the system would help reveal duty evaded and spurious liquor. “Now, we have no modern technology (to detect spurious liquor). We have to send samples to the lab which is time- consuming. This technology will immediately reveal if the beverage is spurious,” he added, noting that a free mobile app would be developed for download and use by consumers.What’s inside the hologram?The polyester-based holograms, which cannot be reused, will be embedded with technologies like speaking features (handheld readers can be used to speak about the genuineness of a hologram), colour UV features like in a passport or paper currency (holograms showing two different colours when placed under a UV light, tags (where a simple field test can throw up a yes/ no result by lighting up an indicator on a reader) and multi-level covert laser-viewable effects.

Kerala: Bar licence to 5 star category hotels triggers row

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Monday said his government had no role in the grant of bar licences to five new five-star hotels in the state and it was done by the Centre as part of its tourism policy. Answering questions of reporters, Chandy also said there was nothing unusual in it.

Oommen Chandy/AFPOommen Chandy/AFP

Oommen Chandy/AFP

“Kerala’s liquor policy stated that bar hotels would not be allowed in hotels below five-star status,” he said at a meet-the-press programme in Kannur.

“Sanctioning of bar licence to five star hotels is (done) by Centre. It is part of tourism policy,” Chandy said, adding the state government has no role in it. He also made it clear that UDF would not dilute its policy, envisaging total prohibition in ten years.

KPCC President V M Sudheeran, who has been at the forefront of the anti-liquor campaign, said UDF will not dilute its liquor policy. “The issue related to granting of licence will be examined,” he said, adding that he was not aware of details as he was electioneering.

The issue has triggered a row with CPI(M) veteran V S Achuthanandan attacking the UDF government, saying it has exposed the government’s “fake (liquor) policy” to dupe the public.

Bihar liquor ban: Cabinet to refund license fees to bars, hotels and shops

Patna: Bihar cabinet decided on Monday to refund license fees to bars, hotels and retail foreign liquor shops, besides giving ‘export duty exemption’ to distilleries of the state.

“The state cabinet gave its nod to Registration, Excise and Prohibition Department’s proposal to refund license fees to bars, restaurants, hotels, retail foreign liquor shops,” Principal Secretary (Excise) K K Pathak said.

License fee, movement fee, excise duty or VAT deposited by bars, restaurants, hotels, foreign liquor shops would be refunded to them following the state government’s decision to enforce complete prohibition, he said.

The move has come as a relief to those who have deposited license fee for running bars, restaurants, hotels, clubs, and retail foreign liquor shops in the state for 2016-17.

Pathak, however, could not specify the exact amount of license fees that would be refunded by the state government.

A file photo of Nitish Kumar. ReutersA file photo of Nitish Kumar. Reuters

A file photo of Nitish Kumar. Reuters

The cabinet also gave its nod to the excise department’s proposal to exempt distilleries from export duty in order to facilitate export of ‘ethanol’ and ‘extra neutral alcohol’ (ENA) from Bihar to other states.

At present, there is 50 paisa per litre export duty on ethanol while it is Rs 4 per litre on ENA, Pathak said.

Export duty exemption would cost around Rs 4 crore to the state exchequer, he added.

There are 12 sugar and grain based distilleries in the state which produce ethanol and ENA.

ENA is used in the manufacturing of foreign liquor while ethanol is blended in petrol, excise officials said.

It would help the distilleries in making them financially viable in the state, officials said adding that distilleries have got an order of 5 crore bulk litres of ethanol purchase from oil companies.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar had announced last week that the government would refund license fees to those who had deposited fees for running their business for 2016-17.

Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had also demanded that the state government return ‘license fees’ it had collected for 2016-17 from bars.

After sale and consumption of country and spiced liquor in rural areas were banned on 1 April, the government imposed on 5 April total ban on sale and consumption of liquor including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).

Tamil Nadu assembly polls: Jayalalithaa promises prohibition in state if re-elected

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday promised introduction of liquor prohibition in the state in phases if her AIADMK is voted back to power.

Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. PTITamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. PTI

Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. PTI

Kickstarting her election campaign in Chennai, Jayalalithaa, also the AIADMK general secretary, said it is not possible to prohibit liquor sales in the state with one single signature and has to be done step by step.

Addressing a massive public rally held at the Island Grounds, she said: “If AIADMK comes back to power then prohibition will be introduced in phases. The timing of the liquor shops will be reduced, the bars will be closed, rehabilitation centres will be opened and the number of liquor outlets will be reduced.”

She charged DMK president M Karunanidhi for lifting prohibition in 1971 and introducing liquor to a generation that did not know about the drink.

Karunanidhi does not have any right to speak about prohibition, she said.

AssamAssam

She also introduced her party’s 21 candidates standing for election in the assembly constituencies in Chennai and surrounding places.

Large scale seizure of liquor in Bihar after total ban

Huge quantity of liquor, country made as well Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), was seized during stepped up raids across Bihar on Wednesday, hours after total ban on alochol was clamped.The total ban on alcohol sale and consumption announced by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday has resulted in drastic decline in footfalls in hotels, club and bar and restaurants in different parts of the state. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Om Prakash Gupta, Assistant Excise Commissioner, said that 17,000 litres of country made liquor were seized in Chapra in raid.In Malsalami of Patna, police recovered 90 cartons of country liquor hidden in a bush, Station House Officer Rajendra Prasad said. A report from Kisanganj said 150 cartons of foreign liquor, headed for neighbouring Malda district of West Bengal was seized at Faring Gola check post. The liquor coming from Silliguri bore stamp of West Bengal but there was no signature of any official and hence the Excise officials seized the liquor.In Nalanda, the home district of the Chief Minister, 1,115 bottles of foreign liquor was seized from a hotel in Biharsharif and its owner arrested. The control room, set up in the state police headquarters, said that altogether 25 complaints of illegal sale, stocking and consumption of liquor was received today and concerned officials were alerted for action against them. The Nitish Kumar government had yesterday declared Bihar a dry state with imposition of a total ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol including India Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) with immediate effect.The Bihar government had banned sale and consumption of country and spiced liquor in rural areas from April 1 this year, but had allowed sale of IMFL in towns and cities. But, as the Chief Minister asserted, the overwhelming response of people, particularly women and children against liquor in Patna and other towns in a short span of four days, prompted the government move for a total ban on liquor.

PIL filed in Patna HC against Bihar govt’s total ban on alcohol

Patna: A public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed on Wednesday in the Patna High Court challenging the Bihar government’s decision to clamp total ban on sale and consumption of alcohol in the state.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

An ex-serviceman AN Singh filed the PIL in the Patna High Court, a day after the Nitish Kumar ministry declared Bihar a total dry state.

The petition contended that the state government’s decision violated human rights of a citizen about what to eat and drink.

The writ described the penal provision in the Amended Exise Act of Bihar, which was passed in the state Legislative Assembly on 31 March last, as “draconian, arbitrary and malafide” as it violated Article 14, 19, 21 and 22 of the Constitution.

Date for hearing the petition has not yet been fixed.

The petition came a day after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced the state cabinet’s decision to impose total ban on sale and consumption of liquor including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) in the state with immediate effect.

The Bihar government had banned sale and consumption of country and spiced liquor in rural areas from 1 April this year, but had allowed sale of IMFL in towns and cities.

“But, the tremendous response of people, particularly women and children against liquor in Patna and other towns in a short period of four days, only convinced us that a conducive environment against alcohol has been created in the state and that’s why we decided to go for a total ban on liquor after four days only,” Kumar had said on Tuesday.

The Army cantonment areas have been kept out of the ban order.

On ‘toddy’, the state cabinet decided to strictly impose the 1991 guidelines which prohibit sale of toddy within 50 metre of places like hospital, education institutions, religious places among others in towns and 100 metres radius in rural areas.

The 1991 guidelines also prohibit opening of toddy shops at bazar haat, entrance point of such haat and densely populated areas in villages among others.

Bihar officially declared a dry state

Bihar was declared a dry state on Tuesday with the Nitish Kumar government imposing a total ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol including India Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) with immediate effect.The decision, announced by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after a Cabinet meeting, which comes into effect from Tuesday makes it clear that no alcohol can be legally consumed in all of Bihar, including bars and restaurants.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bihar government had banned sale and consumption of country and spiced liquor in rural areas from April 1 this year, but had allowed sale of IMFL in towns and cities.”But, the tremendous response of people, particularly women and children against liquor in Patna and other towns in a short period of four days, only convinced us that a conducive environment against alcohol has been created in the state and that’s why we decided to go for a total ban on liquor after four days only,” Kumar told reporters.Army cantonment areas not included in this banNo license would be granted for sale and consumption of alcohol in places like hotels, clubs and bars in towns and cities too with immediate effect, he said. He, however, said Army cantonment areas would be out of it as they regulate sale and consumption of alcohol in their own way.On ‘toddy’, Kumar said the state cabinet decided to strictly impose the 1991 guidelines which prohibits sale of toddy within 50 metre of places like hospital, education institutions, religious places among others in towns and 100 metres radius in rural areas. The 1991 guidelines also prohibits opening of toddy shops at bazar haat, entrance point of such haat and densely populated areas in villages.Companies can manufacture but not trade within Bihar: Nitish KumarAsked about fate of liquor manufacturing companies and factories existing in the state after total ban order today, the CM said they could continue manufacture but cannot trade in it within the state.In urban areas, it disallows opening of toddy shops near factory, petrol pump, railway station, railway yard, bus station and national and state highways.”Besides, they have to abide by rules like having digital lock system and GPS monitoring equipment in vehicles transporting the liquor manufactured in outlets in Bihar to places outside the state for sale,” Kumar said.Responding to a question on what would be done with nearly 36,000 litres of foreign liquor lying with Bihar State Beverages Corporation Limited (BSBCL) which they had to supply to limited outlets in towns and cities under its strict supervision, Kumar said the Excise department would prepare an action plan for disposal of residual IMFL.”It (residual IMFL) should be destroyed as it is not a good thing to keep in archive,” Kumar said speaking his mind on the stock of foreign brands lying with the individuals for personal consumption.Welcoming the decision, former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the state government finally yielded to Opposition pressure for complete prohibition.

Maharashtra has banned sale of liquor in plastic bottles, state tells HC

Mumbai: Sale of liquor in plastic bottles has been banned in Maharashtra with effect from 1 April, 2016, fearing it might harm the health of consumers, the state government has told the Bombay High Court.

A Government Resolution to this effect was issued on 11 January, 2016, a pleader representing the state informed the bench headed by Justice VM Kanade which on Monday heard a public interest litigation seeking a ban on sale of liquor in polyethylene terephthalate bottles or plastic bottles.

Accordingly, the bench disposed of the PIL filed by Global Enviro Solutions, an NGO, saying that nothing survived in the PIL as the government had banned sale of liquor in plastic bottles.

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Representational image. Reuters

The PIL alleged that plastic material was soluble and migrated into the stored alcohol causing cancer to consumers.

The petition said that no time limit or expiry date was mentioned on the plastic bottles, and added that liquor becomes carcinogenic when stored in plastic bottles.

The petitioner produced reports of National Test House, a government lab, to show that antimony (poisonous chemical) increases when liquor was stored in plastic bottles.

Sanjay Gorwardkar and Sadhna Mahashabde, lawyers for Global Enviro Solutions, said that the Centre needs to consider the reports that the petitioners had produced, which point to the dangers of such plastic packaging for liquor.

Milind Sathe, the senior counsel representing bottle manufacturers, argued that the Union government has constituted an expert committee comprising scientists to examine the effect of liquor or medicine storage in plastic bottles.

He said that the Centre has already notified draft plastic disposal rules which would take care of the activists’ concern about improper disposal.

Meanwhile, during the course of hearing of PIL, the petitioner submitted a representation to the state government which issued the GR last month to ban the sale of liquor in plastic bottles.

PTI

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