Nitish Kumar Says There May Be Amendments To Bihar’s Prohibition Law

Nitish Kumar was speaking at a function organised to mark International Day Against Drug Abuse (File)   - Sakshi Post

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said there would be "no compromise" in the prohibition policy, but hinted that amendments, aimed at eradicating alleged misuse of the anti-liquor law, may be introduced in the upcoming state legislative assembly session.

The chief minister said a committee of officials from the Home and Prohibition and Excise departments has been set up to look into complaints of misuse of the prohibition law, and come up with suitable amendments that would be vetted by experts in the Law department.

He was speaking at a function here organised to mark International Day Against Drug Abuse.

"The ban on sale and consumption of alcohol has brought innumerable benefits. People's quality of life has improved. I feel disgust when people suggest that we should not have introduced prohibition since liquor brings lots of revenue," Mr Kumar said.

"We may have lost Rs. 5,000 crore in revenue annually, but a number of studies have shown that households have saved more than Rs. 10,000 crore a year, earlier splurged on drinking. This is what matters more to us than anything else," he said.

Besides, there have been surveys that have reported a drop in various types of crimes and instances of mental afflictions such as depression and anxiety after Bihar became "sharab-mukt", Mr Kumar said.

Expressing grief over incidents such as the death of a few people in Begusarai yesterday after consuming surgical spirit and hooch tragedies in districts of Gopalganj, Vaishali and Rohtas earlier, he said that "bad deeds by a handful of people can not undo the benefits of a good step".

"We have heard complaints that the provisions of the prohibition law are being misused. There are allegations that people in the administrative machinery are often to be blamed for such misuse.

"We are not turning a blind eye. A committee of officials - from the departments of Home and Prohibition and Excise - is at work. It will come up with amendments and the same will be vetted by the Law department," he said.

There are now no hiccups as the government has also obtained permission from the Supreme Court which is reviewing our prohibition law, Mr Kumar said.

"The monsoon session of the House is to begin next month. The issue may be resolved therein. But there is no question of a compromise on the issue of the ban on alcohol. It is there to stay," the chief minister said.

Opposition leaders such as former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha president Jitan Ram Manjhi have been severely critical of the prohibition and have alleged that only the poor and mainly those from lower castes are victimised.

Many poor families are dependent on sale and manufacture of country-made liquor, he had said

The main opposition RJD, which was an alliance partner of Kumar-led JD(U) when the ban on alcohol was introduced, has said that while it supported prohibition it would slash the "draconian" provisions of the current law under which a violator may be imprisoned for a period of up to 10 years.


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