Bringing huge setback to Nitish Kumar and ‘Mahagathbandhan’ government, the Patna High Court on Friday declared Bihar’s amended on ‘anti liquor’ prohibition law as illegal.
A bench of the court after hearing a petition termed the total liquor ban as “illegal” and ordered the government to scrap it.
Earlier this month, the Bihar Prohibition & Excise Bill, 2016, was formally approved by Governor Ram Nath Kovind.
Last month, both houses of the Bihar legislature passed the bill with voice vote amidst boycott by the opposition.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party dubbed it a “black law” and a “draconian” measure. The party introduced a series of amendments, but all were defeated by voice votes in the assembly during the discussion.
The Bihar government had instituted a tough prohibition law this year to prevent consumption of liquor in the state. Starting April 1 this year, country-made liquor was banned. Then the ban was extended to Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).
But the Nitish Kumar government went even further and introduced a provision in the law that allows action against all adult members of a family if liquor is found on their premises or one of them is suspected to have consumed it.
A division bench of the court 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 ultra vires to the Constitution, hence not enforceable, the court said in its verdict.
The same bench had on May 20 reserved its order on a batch of writ petitions filed by Liquor Trade Association and many individuals challenging the liquor law in Bihar brought by Nitish Kumar government with stringent penal provisions.