Government Eases up on Booze-related Offense

Prohibition law in Bihar eased.

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Patna: Faced with mounting criticism for the 'Talibani' liquor law in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish on Thursday, following a meeting of the cabinet, announced watering down of the state's prohibition law that would not necessarily land someone in the jail on the first offense.

Instead of the current rule of five-year automatic imprisonment even for the first-time offender, they would instead be required to pay a fine of Rs. 50,000 to avoid jail term, state Advocate General Lalit Kishore said.

Those who fail to pay the fine will have to serve three months in the jail for the first offense and five years if it is the second offense, he said.

Furthermore, those found to be selling or manufacturing alcohol would be required to serve five years in jail as opposed to ten years under current provision.

Another change in the existing liquor law deals with alcohol seized from vehicles or homes where both the occupants and owners were jailed and their properties seized. Under the new provision, only the occupant of the house or vehicle would be punished.

Reacting to the news, a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) spokesperson described the change in the prohibition law as a sign of fear in the NDA camp.

"The Grand Alliance has already announced its decision to scrap prohibition completely and this strategy alone could shift the balance of power from the NDA to the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan in Bihar. Some leaders in the NDA are seeing the writing on the wall and that is why Nitish Kumar is ordering the dilution of the law," said legislator Shakti Singh Yadav.

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