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'Murders Happen Despite Law Against It,' CM Nitish Kumar Defends Bihar Prohibition Law

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed surprise over the opposition walkout as all the parties had given a unanimous support when prohibition was introduced in the state and participated in a massive human chain formed last year against the liquor menace.

PTI

Updated:July 24, 2018, 8:12 AM IST
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'Murders Happen Despite Law Against It,' CM Nitish Kumar Defends Bihar Prohibition Law
File photo of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. (PTI)
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Patna: The Bihar Assembly passed a bill on Monday to amend some of the stringent provisions of the prohibition law in order to prevent its misuse and make the quantum of punishment proportionate to the nature of offence.

The Opposition, which was seeking the declaration of Bihar as "drought-hit" since morning, continued to press their demand in the post-lunch session and staged a walkout, while the House took up the Bihar Prohibition and Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2018 for consideration.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed surprise over the opposition walkout as all the parties had given a unanimous support when prohibition was introduced in the state and participated in a massive human chain formed last year against the liquor menace.

Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Tejashwi Yadav later told reporters that no amount of law-making on prohibition would have any meaning unless the government was able to give a guarantee that liquor would not be available in the state.

The fact was that the illicit liquor trade, as in Gujarat, was thriving in Bihar under the patronage of some ruling coalition leaders, with the connivance of the police and administration, he alleged.

Kumar, however, told the House that the charge that prohibition had failed as illicit liquor was still being seized and people were being caught consuming alcohol was misplaced.

"Murders are committed, despite a law against it. That does not mean the law has failed. What is needed is greater social awareness," he said.

The chief minister also dismissed the charge of loss of revenue on account of prohibition, saying the money earlier spent on liquor was now being used for better purposes, which was beneficial to all.

The prohibition law earlier provided for a five-year prison term, in addition to a Rs 1-lakh fine, for those consuming liquor or caught in an inebriated state. Now, first-time offenders will have to pay a fine of Rs 50,000, failing which, they will have to undergo a prison term of three months. Besides, the offence has now been made bailable.

Repeat offenders will be punished with a prison term of not less than a year and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh. However, those causing disturbance or violence in an inebriated state or facilitating consumption of liquor on their premises will continue to attract a prison term not shorter than five years and penalty of not less than Rs 1 lakh.

Those guilty of manufacture, storage and illegal trade in liquor earlier attracted a maximum term of life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.

As per the amended law, the first offence of this nature will be punishable with a prison sentence of at least five years and a fine of not less than Rs 1 lakh, while subsequent offences will be punishable by at least 10 years in prison and a fine of not less than Rs 5 lakh.

The amendment also removes the provision for imposition of collective fine and externing of notorious and habitual offenders from a district.

It also removes the provision for booking all the adult members of a household if liquor is found in the house.

"Some people are giving a highly exaggerated figure of those in jail for violation of the prohibition law," Kumar said. Yadav wondered what was the big hurry to introduce the bill on Monday itself and get it passed.

"The issue of drought, which we were raising, is indeed much bigger and an urgent one and that is why we protested when our request for a discussion on the same was turned down," the RJD leader said.
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat of the state Assemblies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you put on the psephologist's hat. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections. Elections = News18)
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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