Gujarat Assembly passes Bill to add teeth to liquor law

In the current Act, punishment for such behaviour is just one to three months of jail and a fine of Rs 200-500.
 

Published: 23rd February 2017 12:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd February 2017 12:12 AM   |  A+A-

For representational purpose

By PTI

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat Assembly today passed a Bill to make the present liquor law stringent after a heated debate during which Opposition Congress attacked the BJP government for taking the measure with an eye on Assembly polls slated by the year-end.
    
The Bill proposes tough action against bootleggers, tipplers as well as officials who help culprits in escaping during raids on liquor dens.
    
The Gujarat Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was passed unopposed in the House as both BJP and Congress gave their consent to it through voice vote.
    
It replaced an ordinance issued by the government in December last year to amend the current law governing the sale, consumption and transport of liquor in the "dry state".
    
During a debate on various provisions of the Bill, Shaktisinh Gohil (Congress) alleged that the BJP government brought the legislation under pressure, not voluntarily.
    
He alleged the BJP governments in the past weakened the Prohibition Act by introducing certain provisions. "Now, as Assembly elections are approaching, you want to strengthen the Act, which was made weaker by your past governments."
    
Punja Vansh (Congress) said the BJP government lacks political will and commitment to enforce the law.
    
"Police officials are involved in protecting bootleggers. This can not happen without the support of higher authorities. The government must check call details of such corrupt police officials to find out their connections with bootleggers," he said.
    
Speaking on the issue, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said the Vijay Rupani government is committed to enforce strict prohibition across the state.
    
"We know that many crimes are linked with liquor consumption. Our government is committed to curb this menace through this new Act, which has many stringent provisions," he said.
    
Some of the key provisions include a significant increase in the penalty as well as jail term for those involved in the purchase, sale and transportation of liquor.
    
Now, those selling liquor would face up to 10 years of jail and a fine of Rs 5 lakh. In the current Act, punishment for this illegal activity was just 3 years.
    
Similarly, liquor den operators as well as those helping them would face imprisonment up to 10 years.
    
In another major amendment, people who create ruckus or harass others under inebriated condition would face a jail term of up to three years, but not less than one year.
    
In the current Act, punishment for such behaviour is just one to three months of jail and a fine of Rs 200-500.
    
As per the Bill, police officials found guilty of helping bootleggers in escaping during raids would attract prison term of seven years and Rs 1 lakh in fine.

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