Law Kumar Mishra

Pa: Liquor ban shall continue in Bihar under a legislation passed on August 1 by both the houses of Bihar legislature and approved by Governor-Ramnath Kovid  on September 7. The new Act shall be effective from October 2.  Earlier in the day, a division bench of Patna High Court on Friday declared the Bihar Excise Act as ultra-vires.
Delivering judgement on three sets of civil writs filed in High Court, chief justice I A Ansari and Justice Navniti Prasad Singh said the notification( no 11/Nai Utpad niti-01-03/2016-1485) issued by the state government on April 5, 2016, was illegal. However, the state government said prohibition shall continue under the new Act which was approved by Governor on September 7.

High Court had kept the order reserved since May 20 after hearing the petitioners who included some physicians, liquor traders and manufacturers. The state government had imposed  ban on  wholesale or retail trade and consumption of foreign liquor by any licence holder or any person  with immediate effect. Since April, over 15,000 people including two legislators, 50 serving and retired armymen were arrested by police and excise officials. On charges of misuse of  the Act, an excise official too was arrested in Nalanda district.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar has convened an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday to discuss the implications of the High Court order. He summoned his senior ministers, state JD(U) president Bashistha Narain Singh and additional principal advocate general at his residence. Chief secretary A K Singh and excise commissioner A K Das were also  called at the meeting. After the meeting, the state JD(U) president said the  chief minister has said the new excise Act will be implemented from October 2 and the liquor ban will continue. He said the High Court had declared the April 5 notification as ultra vires.

On August 1, the Bihar legislature had passed another legislation to enforce prohibition and Governnor Ramnath Kovind gave his assent to the Bill on September 7. The chief secretary also claimed liquor ban would continue under the provisions of the new Act.

The Bill passed in August is stringent than April law as under the new law, death sentence has been prescribed for offences under the Act. In the new Act, there are 100 sections. The August  legislation has not been challenged in the court, the government clarified.

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