In a slight relief for Nitish Kumar’s government, the Supreme Court on Friday stayed the order of the Patna High Court of September 30 striking down the liquor ban in Bihar.
The high court in its order had quashed the state government’s notification of April 5 which banned consumption and sale of liquor in Bihar.
The Bihar Government had challenged the order and introduced the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, on October 2, which came down harder on the culprits under the law.
The Supreme Court has issued notices to all the respondents, including the state government and liquor manufacturers, who earlier approached the high court claiming that the state government’s prohibition law is illegal and unconstitutional. The court has posted the matter for hearing after eight weeks.
The state government notified the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 to ensure that the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) as well spiced and domestic liquor continued in the State. It came across as harder and stricter with increased punishment and fine on the culprits.
The state government has questioned the high court verdict and urged the supreme court to decide whether State can impose an absolute prohibition on distribution and consumption of liquor and asked whether an individual can claim the right to consume liquor as his or her fundamental right under the Constitution.
The high court had on September 30 quashed the state government’s notification banning consumption and sale of alcohol in the State, saying it was ultra vires to the Constitution.
The order was passed on a batch of petitions filed by the Liquor Trade Association and others, challenging the liquor law, brought in with stringent penal provisions.
The Bihar government had first banned manufacturing, trade, sale and consumption of country-made liquor since April 1 and it later imposed a blanket ban on all types of liquor, including foreign liquor and Indian made foreign liquor.