26/10/2016 10:26 AM IST | Updated 26/10/2016 11:10 AM IST

Bihar Govt Has Decided To Relax Its Liquor Ban For The Armed Forces 'In The Interest Of Soldiers'


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Representative image. (Photo by Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images)

If you are a member of the armed forces or live in the cantonment areas, military and air force stations in Bihar, you just got lucky. According to a report in The Telegraph, the state government has decided to renew liquor licences of the canteens in these establishments for the financial year 2016-17 — ostensibly "in the interest of soldiers".

This means, while the rest of the state must observe prohibition to advance Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's grand ambition of "ushering positive change" into Bihar, those who are part of the defence forces may continue to legally consume alcohol. A letter the excise commissioner has been already issued to this effect.

The government has also accepted the defence lobby's request of not imposing mandatory holograms on liquor bottles brought and sold at these canteens. It has relaxed the rule that stipulated vehicles meant for transporting liquor from procurement centres in other states should be fitted with digital locks and global positioning system (GPS). These conditions were agreed on, according to the excise commissioner, because liquor bottles sold in these canteens already have "for armed forces use only" stamped on them and are transported under strict military supervision.

In spite of the Patna High Court quashing an earlier order on prohibition, the Bihar government went ahead with 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, was observed across the state.

The revised law has some even more stringent provisions, including a longer duration of imprisonment, a bigger sum of penalty, arrest of all adults in case of recovery of liquor bottle from a house and collective fine on a region in case of habitual violation of prohibition.

Such harsh measures, meant as deterrent to alcoholism and the trading in illicit hooch, have a tendency to backfire by encouraging bootleggers to adopt devious ways to keep the supply chain solvent.

In the latest among a string of cases of people caught in illegal possession of alcohol, the Patna police arrested the son of a retired judge, who was found with 30 bottles of foreign liquor, from Boring Canal Road. The police were tipped off that Vinod Kumar, son of retired judge R.P. Singh, was selling these bottles from his office.

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