Patna: Amid allegations of “ineffective implementation” of the prohibition law and recent hooch tragedies in Bihar, the Nitish Kumar-led state government is planning to now contemplating a relaxation in some of the stringent provisions of the anti-liquor law to provide relief for non-habitual offenders. The move comes after the Supreme Court dismissed the state’s batch of appeals challenging grant of anticipatory and regular bails to accused under the liquor law, saying “the prosecution of the case should be made in all earnestness to secure conviction and punishment”.Also Read - Bihar Girl With One Leg Who Hopped For Over 1 Km Daily To Reach School Gets Artificial Limb
The changes suggested include imposing fines on first-time offenders, instead of sending them to jail. For example, if a person is caught drunk for the first time, he/she may not be arrested but will be let off after payment of a fine on the spot. Also Read - Racket Involved In GST Fraud Detected In Bihar, Stringent Action To Be Taken Against Culprits
“People who are caught in a drunken state can be let off after paying a penalty on the spot. However, it will not be applicable to repeat offenders. Failure to pay the penalty will invite simple imprisonment of one month, but repeat offences may invite additional penalty or imprisonment or both,” an official told news agency PTI. Also Read - How Nitish Kumar Plans To Make Bihar New Textile And Leather Hub, Create More Jobs
The Nitish Kumar government is also considering a proposal to release a vehicle found involved in liquor violation by paying a penalty, said the official on condition of anonymity. A proposal is also there to increase the number of courts in districts to deal with pending cases related to prohibition.
Under the present law, brought into effect in 2016, first-time offenders can get bail from the police by paying Rs 50,000, but have to still face trial in court. Since most of the people fail to pay the fine, they also end up going to jail and then applying for regular bail, either in the trial court or high court.
The proposed amendments, will bring down the number of cases reaching the judiciary. “It will lessen the burden on courts, giving them time to dispose of other judicial matters with ease,” the official said PTI, adding that the provision under the prohibition law that calls for the seizure of vehicles from which liquor is recovered will also be done away with, and vehicles can be released after a fine is paid.
The proposals are likely to be placed before the Bihar assembly in its forthcoming session in February.