Law Kumar Mishra
Patna: According to section 47 of the Bihar Excise Act 2016 “whoever,in contravention of provisions of the Act or any rule or any order or any notification issued under the Act, manufactures, possesses, sales, distributes, bottles, imports, exports ,transports or removes any intoxicant, cultivates any hemp plant or bootles any liquor, uses, keeps or has in his possession any material, utensil, implement or apparatus or premises for manufacturing an intoxicant, posseses any material, film or logo or anything in which liquor can be packed , sells, collects, possesses or buys intoxicants shall be punishable with imprisonment for not less than TEN years,which may extend to life term and fine which may extend to Rs ten lakh.

Under section 48, one can be arrested even if it is assumed that an offence under section 47 shall be committed. Section 56 prescribes for seven year RI and fine of Rs ten lakh for advertisement of liquor. Films, print and electronic media are included. Section 63 empowers officials to book offence against the owners of the premises, transport mode also allowing use of liquor to tenants or occupants and section 64 provides fines and RI for even attempt to provide premises for use of liquor. Authorities are empowered to arrest without warrants and even searches can be conducted without warrants. Section 67 A vests powers in excise officials to even implead manufacturer.

Under section 50, penalty for mixing noxious substances with liquor which may cause death or cause disability, the  punishment is death sentence and fine of Rs ten lakh. For selling illicit liquor, fine is life imprisonment and fine of Rs ten lakhs

Commenting on the provisions of the Act, Chhaya Mishra,Central government counsel at Patna High Court, said a bench headed by  the acting chief justice the Patna High Court is examining the validity of the Act. Some liquor manufacturers and doctors have filed petitions challenging the legality of the Act which they claim violated their fundamental right . The provisions under the Act are tougher than the provisions in similiar Acts in Gujarat or Kerala, she said. Though the Bill was debated in the state legislature , enoguh study might not have been done about the ways to enforce the provisions of the Act, Mishra said. She recalled the preamble of the Act itself confirms,it was done in great hurry as it reads “the state government hereby imposes bsn on wholesale or retail trade and consumption of foreign liquor by a licence holder or any person in the whole of the State of Bihar with IMMEDIATE effect on April 5, 2016.”

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