SC raps Bihar for deluge of cases against prohibition law, Oppn calls it a 'flop show'

Published on : 04:04 PM Feb 27, 2022

Supreme Court on Friday asked the Bihar government whether all aspects were studied while enacting the law and what concrete steps were taken to increase the number of judges and courts to deal with the cases in the state. The apex court ruling has provided fodder to the opposition in the state to target the Nitish Kumar government.

Patna: With the Supreme Court pulling up the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government over the overwhelming litigations entailing the 2016 liquor prohibition law, politics has heated up afresh with the opposition targeting the government over the issue.

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The Bihar Prohibition Act of 2016 prohibits the sale, drinking, and brewing of alcohol and initially provided for attachment of property and up to life imprisonment.

Although an amendment in 2018 relaxed the sentence, according to the data of Bihar Police Headquarters, more than 3 lakh cases related to violation of alcohol prohibition law have been registered so far. Advertisement

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SC raps Bihar for deluge of cases against prohibition law, Oppn calls it a 'flop show'

With the subsequent litigations piling up both at the Bihar High Court as well as the Supreme Court, the apex court on Friday asked the Bihar government whether all aspects were studied while enacting the law and what concrete steps were taken to increase the number of judges and courts to deal with the cases in the state.

The fresh Supreme Court ruling has provided fodder to the opposition in the state to target the Nitish Kumar government.

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The main opposition party RJD and Jitan Ram Manjhi's party have already been raising questions about the alcohol ban law with the Supreme Court statement only corroborating the criticism.

"The remarks of the Supreme Court make it clear that the liquor policy formulated by the Bihar government has many shortcomings. The biggest thing is that there is a system of sentencing and there is a system of court. There was no discussion about that. Judges of all the courts especially the judges of Patna High Court are busy looking into these cases. The biggest irony is that the police in Bihar are engaged in searching for alcohol except for the entire system. The government should address the shortcomings," RJD spokesperson, Ejaz Ahmed said in a statement over the court ruling.

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Amitabh Das, the senior IPS officer said the alcohol ban law has proved to be a "complete failure in Bihar".

"Nitish has created an atmosphere in Bihar as if there is no bigger issue in the state. The whole police are following this. The police department has been thrown into an alcohol ban and the department does not have adequate resources even today. On the other hand, the judicial system has also deteriorated completely, "Das said.

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Political analyst Dr. Sanjay Kumar said the government "did not prepare in advance before bringing the law".

"The survey should have been done first and then the resources should have been discussed. However, the government hastily implemented the law, due to which the court also has to comment on it today," he said.

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However, the alliance partners JDU and BJP disputed the claims with the former alleging the judiciary is "interfering in the work of the legislature".

"The Hon'ble Speaker of the Lok Sabha came to the orientation program of the Bihar Assembly members. In that program, our Parliamentary Affairs Minister cum Education Minister Vijay Chowdhury did not justify interference in the work of the legislature in democracy. In this context, he had broadly expressed his views on behalf of the State Government. The way the judiciary is interfering in the work of the legislature today is not good for democracy, " Arvind Nishad, JD (U) spokesperson said.

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"On the basis of purely scientific facts, after discussions with the Law Department of the Bihar Government and discussions in both the Houses, the Prohibition of Alcohol Act was implemented in Bihar. The alcohol ban law is in the interest of Bihar. Many other states are following suit," he added.

Arvind Singh, BJP spokesperson said that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is "reviewing from time to time (liquor ban), good results are also coming to the fore".

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"In Bihar, crime is curbed due to alcohol ban. Children, women, and business people are feeling safe. Alcohol ban law is being strictly enforced in Bihar. I have nothing to say on the remarks of the court".

Earlier, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court NV Ramanna had expressed concern over the deluge of bail petitions arising out of the alcohol ban law in Bihar.

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