PATNA—In a significant move, the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar has announced to grant drinkers relaxation from arrest with the condition that they disclosed the name of liquor smugglers.
The move comes in the aftermath of the “faulty” liquor law being frequently blamed for crowding the state jails. The state government enforced the total prohibition six years back.
“We have made some changes in the existing liquor law. Now the persons caught in drinking condition can avoid going to jail if they provide us information about the bootleggers and the place from where they procured alcohol,” deputy excise commissioner Krishna Paswan told the media today.
The development comes in the wake of the crowding of Bihar jails following arrest of drinkers in huge numbers in “dry” Bihar.
According to state police records, 3,48,170 cases have been lodged and 4,01,855 arrests made under the Bihar Prohibition and Excise law until October last year.
Similarly, around 20,000 bail applications relating to these cases have been pending for disposal before the Patna High Court and district courts in the state, amply explaining the seriousness of the situation.
The prevailing situation has drawn repeated criticisms from courts in a huge embarrassment to the ruling Nitish Kumar government which has failed to check supply of liquor in the state even six years after it put a blanket ban on sale and consumption of alcohol in the state.
Only last week, the Supreme Court asked the state government whether it conducted any study before framing the law and created a judicial infrastructure adequate to meet the torrent of litigation that was bound to follow, alarmed at the deluge of bail petitions as a result of the new excise law.