PATNA: Two men were sentenced to five years in jail and were asked to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh each for drinking alcohol in Bihar — the first conviction under the state’s stringent prohibition law, which came into force last year. Brothers Mastan Manjhi and Painter Manjhi were convicted by an additional district judge in Jehanabad after prosecution proved that they had violated the provisions of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016. The verdict was delivered on Monday.
The two were arrested on May 29 from the southern district of Jehanabad by the excise department officials after they were found drinking alcohol. A medical examination of their blood samples confirmed that they had indeed consumed alcohol. The medical report was presented in the court as evidence of the crime.
Triloki Nath Tripathy, the additional district judge who convicted them, said each would have to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh failing which they would have to undergo an additional year of imprisonment. The two are semi-literate daily-wage workers from Bihar’s Mahadalit community of Musahars. The Nitish Kumar-led government imposed a total prohibition on the sale, storage and consumption of alcohol in April 2016, the violation of which may attract imprisonment of up to ten years.
More than 45,000 people have been arrested and millions of litres of illegal liquor have been seized by excise and police officials across the state since the ban went into effect. But smuggling of liquor continues in the state, often with the connivance of police, and seizures have been a daily occurrence.
Last month, three policemen of Patna’s Beur police station were dismissed and another was placed under suspension for allegedly protecting the local liquor mafia. Last week, four police constables were arrested in Bhagalpur district for consuming liquor inside a police outpost. Most recently, on Sunday, a large consignment of foreign liquor being smuggled into to the state in a container from Haryana was seized in Saran.