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Bihar’s prohibition law eased for newbies – The New Indian Express

Express press service

PATNA: Facing criticism, the Bihar government on Wednesday tabled the Prohibition and Excise (Amendment) Bill 2022 in the state legislature, providing for some amendments to the existing law to grant flexibilities to first-time offenders. The bill introduced by the state’s Prohibition and Excise Minister Sunil Kumar passed by voice vote.

In accordance with the provisions of the amended law, first-time offenders will not be placed in police custody. Their cases will be heard by the executive magistrates. The amount of the fine to be collected from first-time offenders will be decided later by the government.

If the accused has not paid the sentence pronounced by the executive magistrate, he will have to serve one month in prison. In addition, vehicles impounded on charges of violating the Prohibition Act may be released upon payment of a fine. But this will be applicable to cases of a mild nature.

The amendments, however, mentioned harsher penalties for repeat offenders and those involved in the illicit trade in “dry” alcohol. A subsection has been added to Section 2 of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016 treating the sale of alcohol as “organized crime”. Three major changes have been made to the current law.

First, those found intoxicated will not be taken directly into custody but released upon payment of a fine imposed by government-appointed executive magistrates. Second, prohibition cases will be heard by executive magistrates, deputy collectors and officers above those ranks. Section 55 of the Act has been repealed, making offenses under the Prohibition Act “offences capable of being aggravated”.

Similarly, major changes have been made to Article 57 of the current law. From now on, alcohol or the raw materials used for the manufacture of alcohol can be destroyed by order of the district magistrates. NDA leaders hailed the bill passed by the House. Reacting to the bill, former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said, “It is clear that CM Nitish Kumar is not rigid on policy.”

The Flak paves the way for better legislation

For first time offenders

  • First-time offenders will not be taken into custody, cases will be heard by executive magistrates
  • Non-payment of the fine will result in one month in prison for the offender; the amount of the fine will be decided later by the government
  • Impounded vehicles may be released after payment of a fine

To eradicate illicit trade

  • Tougher penalties for repeat offenders and those involved in the illicit alcohol trade
  • Organized crime – sale of alcohol will be treated as “organized crime” with newly added sub-section in Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016
  • More powers to the district magistrate
  • New changes to the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016 now allow district magistrates to order the destruction of alcohol or raw materials used to make alcohol