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Liquor ban: Bihar seeks transfer of cases from Patna High Court

The Bihar government on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking transfer of all the matters relating to its law banning sale and consumption of all types of liquor, which are pending before the Patna High Court to the apex court.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy asked senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, who was appearing for the state, to move a proper transfer petition in this regard.

Dhavan, assisted by advocate Keshav Mohan, told the bench that the apex court had on October 7 stayed the operation of Patna High Court’s judgement quashing the law banning sale and consumption of all types of liquor in the state and a number of petitions related to the matter were pending before the high court.

“A number of cases have been filed and they are pending before the high court. Let all the matters be transferred to the Supreme Court,” he said.

To this, the bench said, “You must file a proper transfer petition.” 

The court told Dhavan that the state government could mention the matter before the bench after filing the transfer petition. The bench had earlier issued notice to all respondents including some liquor manufacturers on whose plea the high court had held as illegal and unconstitutional the Bihar government’s prohibition law.

The state government has challenged the high court verdict of September 30 quashing the notification banning consumption and sale of liquor in the state, saying it was ultra vires to the Constitution.

However, after the law was set aside by the high court, the Nitish Kumar government had come out with a new law banning sale and consumption of liquor, which was notified on Gandhi Jayanti day on October 2. 

The Bihar government in its petition had urged the apex court to stay the high court order which had quashed the April 5 notification to ban liquor.

It had 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.

The high court order was passed on a batch of petitions filed by the Liquor Trade Association and others, challenging the liquor law brought in with stringent penal provisions.

Soon thereafter, the state government brought in the new law banning liquor, including harsher provisions like arrest of all adults in a house where contraband was found.

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