Bihar Cabinet Approves Amendments to Liquor Prohibition Law, Diluting Stringent Provisions
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar | File Photo | (Photo Credits: PTI)

Patna, Jul 12: The Bihar government has approved amendments to the stringent prohibition law in the state, proposing a reduction in the quantum of sentence for those held guilty of violating the anti-liquor law.

The nod to the proposed amendments, which would be tabled during the Monsoon Session of the state legislature scheduled later this month, was given at a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar late last evening, Principal Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat department, Arun Kumar Singh told mediapersons.

He, however, did not divulge the contents of the proposed amendment bill.

Advocate General Lalit Kishor told a news channel that the amendments proposed a reduction in the quantum of punishment for those involved in sale and manufacture of liquor as well as for those consuming alcohol, including the first-time offenders.

Earlier, both the owner and the occupant of a property or vehicle, from which liquor was seized, were liable to be punished, Kishor said, adding that the amendments proposed shifting the onus primarily on the occupant.

Once the amendments come into force, those will be applicable to the new as well as the pending cases. In other words, those arrested under the old, stringent law might also avail of the relief granted under the amendments, the advocate general said. The ban on sale and consumption of liquor was enforced in Bihar by the Nitish Kumar government in April, 2016.

Kumar had taken the radical step, which has cost the state exchequer about Rs 5,000 crore annually, in keeping with the promise he had made to the women voters in the run-up to the 2015 Bihar Assembly polls. The prohibition law has, however, been termed as draconian by the opposition parties.

The chief minister himself has admitted of late that there have been complaints of misuse of its stringent provisions and promised that suitable amendments will be brought in. The Monsoon Session of the state's bicameral legislature is scheduled to begin on July 20.