Nitish Kumar to bring new law on Oct 2
The Patna HC early on Friday quashed the Bihar government’s notification completely banning Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) by dubbing it as ultra virus to the Constitution.
In the prohibition matter, a division Bench of the Patna HC comprising Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari and Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh quashed the April 5 notification of the state government to stop consumption and sale of alcohol in the state.
The April 5 notification is about banning foreign liquors in the state, while the first notification, which was issued on April 1 banning country-made liquor, is still in place. With the new act not notified yet and the old act quashed, Bihar is without prohibition on IMFL at the moment.
According to JD(U) leader Neeraj Kumar, Friday’s decision of Patna HC would have a short term impact as the Bihar government is scheduled to introduce more stringent measures to enforce prohibition from October 2 on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary.
“The state Cabinet had announced that a new law with strict measures under the modified Bihar Prohibition and Excise Bill, 2016, would be implemented from Sunday following a gazette notification. The new act had also received the Governor’s assent,” the JD(U) leader said.
Dubbing the Patna HC order as threat to democratic institutions, the JD(U) leader said: “The government is not worried of high court’s opinion as Nitish Kumar’s efforts of making Bihar a liquor free state would not go into vain. Today’s order won’t stop implementation of October 2 notification, which is more stringent.”
He further states: “The High Court has cancelled only April 5 notification and have not mentioned about October 2. So a day after this order, the prohibition laws will be in place with full force.”
He added that perception of the high court is against democratic institutions as the law was enforced after the approval of both the Legislative Houses of the state.
The HC order has also raised questions about above 10,000 people who have been lodged on different jails for violating prohibition orders. “Since the act has been quashed, people booked under different sections of the prohibition act should also be freed. There are several questions that are worrying family members of all those offenders such as what would be the fate of legal proceedings,” said Vipin Prasad, kin of a person booked under prohibition act.
To avoid any Constitutional crisis, according to sources, the Bihar government is examining the order and if needed would move Supreme Court for further course of action in the matter.
Reacting to the decision, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain questioned the state’s intention over the law. Hussain said that the BJP is in favour of the ban, but people should not be harassed under the garb of law.