PATNA: The Supreme Court (SC) has given its go-ahead to the Nitish Kumar government to bring amendments, if it so wishes, to the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016.
The Act prohibits sale and consumption of liquor in the state. A petition concerning prohibition in the state has been sub judice in the apex court.
“The state government moved the SC almost a fortnight back, apprising it of its wish to amend the existing law. A bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra said it was the legislature’s domain to introduce, amend or annul any law,” Bihar Advocate General Lalit Kishore told TOI on Saturday and added the state’s petition did not mention the nature of amendments.
It may be recalled the Patna high court had on September 30, 2016 struck down a state government notification of April 5, 2016 through which the sale and consumption of liquor in the state had been made an offence. The state government moved the SC, which stayed the HC’s ruling.
On Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 the same year, the state government notified a fresh Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, providing for more stringent punishments for liquor sale and consumption, including five-year imprisonment to life term and fine up to Rs 10 lakh.
Asked about the proposed amendments, sources said the quantum of punishments might be reduced. “There’s no change proposed in other provisions,” an official said and added there was no move to withdraw or relax the ban on boozing.
On July 5 this year, CM Nitish Kumar had hinted at a party function in Patna that the government might amend the prohibition laws. He had, however, not disclosed that his government had already sought the SC nod for it.