Patna: A day after the Bihar government notified its new liquor law for continuation of prohibition in the state, a PIL was on Monday filed in the Patna High Court questioning its validity.
The PIL was filed by a retired Patna University economics professor, Rai Murari, challenging the provisions of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 that was notified by the state government on Sunday on Gandhi Jayanti to enforce the ban on sale and consumption of liquor in the state.
Petitioner's counsel Amresh Kumar Singh said the court was yet to fix a date for hearing of the PIL. He, however, said he would soon mention the matter for an early hearing. The PIL was filed a day after the Nitish Kumar government issued a new notification to continue with total prohibition in the state. The new liquor law contained some even harsher provisions than the earlier one, including arrest of all adults in the event of recovery of liquor bottle from a house.
The new Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 came two days after the Patna High Court quashed an early notification of 5 April on prohibition. The petitioner sought the new statute to be declared "ultra vires" of the Constitution on account of being "repugnant" to its Preamble as well as "fundamental rights" as defined in it.
The petitioner submitted, "The impugned Act is wholly obnoxious, draconian in nature and gives unbridled and unfettered powers to all and sundry officers of the Excise department as well as the local police, converting a democratically elected state of Bihar into a police state."
The petitioner also sought the provisions under Chapter III (prohibition), VI (penalty) and VIII (power to enter and search premises) of the new statute to be declared "ultra vires", describing them as "unconscionable", "arbitrary", "unbridled", "unfettered", "confiscatory" and "in violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution".