Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar indicated that due to the misuse of the prohibitation law in the state by the government officials and others, the law could be tweaked and he also hinted a possible change in the amendment of the strict anti-liquor law in Bihar. On Tuesday, the Bihar CM said that the government had been discussing a bunch of changes that could be made to the law in consultation with the lawyer Gopal Subramaniam but he did not disclose the changes and the degree of the effects it would have on the law.
After the initialization of the bill a large number of people were arrested in the state of Bihar for violating the ban of possessing and consuming alcohol. And due to that the CM had faced criticism from the opposition party and certain civil rights groups. Due to this strict law alcohol was being sold illegally in Bihar, they were transported to the state from its neighboring states and other countries of Nepal which further added fuel to the fire. According to the official statistics around 1.5 lakhs people have been arrested by the police and the excise dept. under the un-bailable prohibition law since April 2016 (2 years) in Bihar out of which over 8,000 are in jail.
“People in the government machinery are taking advantage of the provisions under prohibition law but they are under scanner…the poor and downtrodden who were earlier engaged in liquor business have been given alternative means of livelihood and are happy”, said the CM on Tuesday while addressing a youth conference organized by JD(U) on the occasion of World Environment Day in Patna.
The CM further added that he would keep reviewing every aspect of liquor-prohibition law but “the matter of prohibition law is before Supreme Court now.” He also stated that there had been complaints of misuse of the prohibition law and allegations of involvement of those in the government, “This problem too would be solved after a review being carried out.”
Till now there has been no elaboration on what the changes in the law would be. But according to reports and sources one of those changes might be making the offence bailable, unless the accused is a serial offender of the law.
A case under the prohibition law ensures that the suspect who violated the law will have to spend time in jail because earlier the offence has been classified as non-bailable, meaning the suspect cannot seek bail as a matter of right, but a court gets to exercise its discretion.
Over its course of the last 25 months, the poor and the uneducated segments of the society who were caught violating the law suffered the most as they couldn’t bribe their way out of the prison like the rich and powerful who had been charged with the violation of the law. One of such cases is the case of Rahul who was the son of Hari Manjhi, the BJP parliamentarian from Gaya. The opposition parties and others have also complained that the police and excise department invoked the law to frame innocents.