Patna: A Bill providing for upto capital punishment to those manufacturing or trading illicit liquor in the event of hooch tragedy was unanimously passed by both Bihar legislature which also adopted a resolution unanimously that its members will not consume liquor.
"It's a historic day, it's a clear message that everyone is dedicated to making prohibition work," Bihar Cheif Minister Nitish Kumar was quoted in a report by NDTV.
"Charity begins at home. If we are making a law, then we should unanimously pass a resolution from here itself. The message of unity in the form of a resolution that we will neither drink and nor promote drinking should go out to the people," Kumar said while intervening on Excise Minister Abdul Jalil Mastan's reply during a debate on the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
In the first phase, there will be a complete prohibition in rural areas besides a complete ban on country-made liquor across the state while Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) will be sold in limited areas of the state i.e. municipal corporations and councils.
"The Bihar Excise (Amendment) Bill 2016 talks about complete prohibition in the state. The provisions of the new Bill that incorporates some stringent measures will come into effect from 1 April," Kumar said.
Referring to the Constitutional provision of Directive Principles of State Policy, Kumar said "it is the responsibility of the state to work towards implementing prohibition in the state. We are moving in that direction in a strategic manner and that's why we are implementing prohibition in villages in the first phase and later prohibition will be implemented in towns in second phase after a creating a proper atmosphere in this regard."
Describing some of the stringent provisions that would work as deterrent in implementing prohibition in the state, Kumar said that those manufacturing or trading illicit liquor in the state in the event of hooch tragedy will be awarded punishment upto capital punishment.
Similarly, there is a provision for life term sentence for those who manufacture and trade illicit liquor and whose consumption makes a person disabled or cause loss to the human body, Kumar said.
Those who manufacture, trade and transport illicit liquor or making people drink industrial spirit or country-made liquor as foreign liquor, then such person would be handed down with a minimum of 10 years of sentence which may extend up to life, besides a fine of Rs 1 to 10 lakh.
If anyone creates a scene at public places after consuming liquor, he would be sentenced with a minimum five years of sentence which may be extended up to 10 years, Kumar said.
If anyone creates nuisance after having liquor at one's home, campus and shop, then the accused person would be given a minimum of 10 years of imprisonment that can be extended up to life.
A person would be awarded with 7 to 10 years of sentence in addition to a fine of Rs 10 lakh for forcing minors to drink liquor, Kumar said adding that if anyone forces women and minors into illicit liquor business, he/she would get imprisonment between 7 to 10 years, besides a fine of Rs 10 lakh.
Similarly, the government would seize property and other goods and seal the campus if anyone is found indulged in the manufacture and trade of illicit liquor.
Kumar said that the idea of enforcing ban came when some women had demanded a total prohibition on alcohol in the state during an official function on 9 July last year, to which "I promised them that I would enforce ban on liquor if I return to power."
Kumar said that he had announced on 26 November on the occasion of 'Prohibition Day' that his government would implement a complete ban on country-made liquor from 1 April, 2016.
Kumar said that the government would implement the partial ban with people's cooperation besides creating a positive atmosphere for implementation of ban on country made liquor in the state.
Stating that the government would take the help of school children who would take pledge from their parents not to consume liquor, Kumar said that more than one crore parents have, so far, submitted declaration that they would not take liquor.
Besides, there would be a toll-free number on which people across the state can lodge their complaints regarding manufacture, sale, storage of country made liquor in the state.
SPs and SHOs would ensure that no illicit liquor activities are going on in their respective areas, he said adding that responsibilities will be fixed on up to the level of SHOs and SPs.
"The government would create such an environment that people in urban areas would automatically quit liquor consumption," Kumar said.
Bihar State Beverages Corporation Ltd (BSBCL) has been carrying out whole-sale business in the state but from now onwards, BSBCL would also run all the 655 retail shops of foreign liquor in the state, Chief Minister said adding that this would help the government in taking decision to wind up the shops at any moment.
The government has opened indoor and outdoor de-addiction centres in every district in the state to help people in getting rid of liquor habit, he said.
Kumar appealed people to use their molasses for manufacturing ethanol which blended with petrol, Kumar said while making it clear that there will not be any use of 'spirit' in any form in Bihar in order to plug the loopholes.
He also made it clear that the government would not renew the licenses for manufacturing homoeopathy medicines in the state. They can rather import medicines for the purpose, he added.
Later, the Assembly passed two bills - Bihar Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill 2016 and Bihar Police Sub-ordinate Service Selection Commission Bill 2016 for recruitment of sub-inspectors in the state.
With inputs from PTI