Liquor Ban in Bihar: Law Quashed by Patna HCTipplers in Bihar have reason to say cheers again and it is now legal. The Patna High Court has quashed the draconian amendments that ushered in the era of liquor ban in the state. The court was unambiguous in calling the amendments unconstitutional and some of the provisions extremely bad. While the Nitish Kumar government will surely appeal before the Supreme Court, for now at least, people in Bihar can party with the real thing. In a flash of almost lunatic inspiration, Nitish had advised them to dim the lights and party with fruit juice to get the feeling of having alcohol.
By Sunil Garodia
The court opined that the liquor ban law as it stood violated sections 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian constitution. It said that thus, in my view, a citizen has a right to enjoy his liquor within the confines of his house in an orderly fashion and that right would be a part of right of privacy, a fundamental right, under Article 21 of the Constitution and, any deprivation thereof would have to withstand the test of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution as well. The court found the provisions were clearly draconian and in excess of the balance need to be maintained.
This writer had argued in an earlier article that many provisions will not stand judicial scrutiny and the Bihar government will have egg on its face once they are challenged in court. This is exactly what has happened. Even supposedly good public policy cannot be enforced by arbitrary and draconian provisions that violate the constitution. If the legislative intent behind the policy is to bring relief to a large number of people, it has also to be kept in mind that the rights of the rest of the people are not trampled upon. To pre-suppose that consuming alcohol is evil is being judgmental. Starting from the Devatas in Hindu mythology to renowned social reformers, politicians, sportsmen, leaders of men and other social opinion makers have all enjoyed their pegs. It is not alcohol that is evil, but its use in excess that is. Hence, a blanket ban on alcohol, backed by draconian provisions, will never be permitted by Indian laws. Nitish Kumar should rethink his liquor ban policy.
Read the earlier article here