More than two years after the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government passed the 'draconian' Prohibition Bill, the state legislature on Monday watered down some of the stringent punishments in the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act to make it less harsh on violators, especially the first time offenders.
People caught for the first time drinking liquor in Bihar will not be mandatorily sent to prison term. The amendment provides for a fine of Rs 50,000 for first time offenders, who can go free after paying the penalty. Earlier, the first offence under the Bihar liquor law was non-bailable.
Speaking during the ongoing monsoon session of the state assembly, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said, "After lot of consultations and review of the liquor law in last two years we have decided to make amendment."
"If someone is caught drinking he will be fined Rs 50000/- or three months in jail. If caught second time he will be fined Rs 1 lakh fine and 5 years jail. Now house where liquor was recovered will not be seized and mass penalty provision has also been removed," said the chief minister.
The new law removes the provision for seizing property (land, house) or vehicle if liquor is found on any premises. Similarly, the new law does not have the provision for the arrest of all members of the family if some is found consuming alcohol inside a home.
Another provision, which calls for imposing collective fine as punishment in the case of recovery of huge quantity of liquor in an area, is being done away with.
"We don't want that any innocent person to land in jail," Bihar CM added.
Meanwhile, the Opposition staged a walkout from the House, opposing the Amendment Bill.
Total number of persons arrested in liquor cases which includes people caught drinking and smuggling was 62 per cent (caught drinking) and 32 per cent (caught smuggling) respectively.
A total of 6932 persons are in jail presently in liquor cases as on July 12, 2018. Total capacity of prisons in Bihar is 39436 and the number of people in jail right now is 39087.