Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Bihar excise department ad invites people's suggestions on prohibition

 Bihar excise department ad invites people's suggestions on prohibition

Nitish Kumar
Patna, Nov. 1: The excise department on Tuesday sought people's suggestions on Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, whose stringent provisions have drawn sharp criticism as draconian and "Talibani".
People can email their suggestions on how the law should be tweaked to or fax them to 0612-2205871. Suggestions can be sent by post to Omprakash Mandal, nodal officer-cum-secretary to excise commissioner, Vikas Bhawan, New Secretariat, Patna 800015.
The deadline is November 12.

The government ad said: "The provisions of the new law have been widely discussed and several articles have been written about them. Several persons have called the provisions very harsh and raised questions over them. But, they have not suggested suitable provisions to successfully implement prohibition."
The Telegraph had published an article on October 6 in which people had provided suggestions on how to tweak the dry law.
The excise department ad stressed that the government is determined to implement prohibition and was eager for positive suggestions.
"The suggestions could be either in favour or against the provisions," said excise commissioner Aditya Kumar Das. "We are open to every sort of reaction and to receiving them on all the provisions of the newly implemented Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016. We have left a wide scope for the public to advise us."
Suggestions received from the people will be examined every day and the government will decide on the suggestions as per their merit, he added.
The excise department's move comes a month after chief minister Nitish Kumar, while announcing the notification of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016 on October 2, had said that people were welcome to give constructive suggestions if they wanted change, and the state government would take them up to bring amendments during the winter session of the legislature. The winter session will run from November 25 to December 2.
Various provisions of the new law have attracted sharp criticism, especially those mandating arrest of all adult members of a family if a family member violates prohibition, making landlords and company top brass liable for offences by tenants and employees respectively, the long sentences - ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment and capital punishment - and all offences being non-bailable (only courts can grant bail).
The move for suggestions also comes on the heels of three major developments on the prohibition front in the past one month.
First, Patna High Court quashed the older Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016, calling its provisions tantamount to a police state. The case is now in the Supreme Court, which stayed the high court order and will listen to the arguments of the state government and the challengers of the law after a few weeks.
The court battle was followed by the state government relaxing liquor procurement rules for the armed forces, and soon after the high court quashed the ban on the use of alcohol in manufacturing homeopathic and ayurvedic medicines in the state.
A minister admitted to The Telegraph under cover of anonymity the government was feeling the heat of judicial decisions and the pressure from various sections of the society, including women and industrialists, who are opposed to the extremely tough provisions of the new law.
"Nitish must also be aware about the huge quantities of liquor from Haryana and other states entering Bihar, and the way a parallel, underground economy controlled by the liquor mafia is strengthening its roots here. Prohibition is draining state coffers of over Rs 5,000 crore in taxes and duties," the minister said.
But, a senior JDU leader insisted Nitish would never back out of prohibition. "Nitish is a true democrat and is upholding democratic values by calling for people's suggestions," the leader said. "He will act suitably if there is merit in them."



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