THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “Where can I get good home made wine?” It was this seemingly innocent question a person posted on a popular Facebook page on eateries that landed a techie woman and her father in Excise Department custody recently.
One of the group members had suggested the woman’s name and the next thing was that the Excise sleuths came knocking on their doors. The man was remanded while the woman managed to secure station bail. Well placed in a reputed firm, the woman was adept in the art of wine-making, as connoisseurs use to call it, but she was totally oblivious about the law that bans preparation of wine having alcohol content at home. As per Abkari Act, brewing wine having alcohol at home is an offence under section 58, while selling it is punishable under section 55 (i). So, what about those who want to treat their taste buds with pure fermented wine during this festival season?
A senior Excise officer told Express that though brewing is illegal, they turn a blind eye to those who prepare it for domestic consumption. “Though it’s wrong, we don’t want to dampen the spirit of those who prepare wine for themselves during festival occasion. A lot of Christian families have been doing it for decades. But selling it is different. That will invite strict legal action,” said a senior officer.
Thiruvananthapuram Excise circle Inspector T Anikumar was one among the officers who took action against the techie woman. He said incidents of wine prepared at home being sold to public have been on the rise.
“There are certain pockets where the brewing and selling take place regularly. In most of the cases, the offenders don’t know the severity of the crime they commit.“Even just before Christmas, we got solid information that wine was being sold at a place near Thumba beach. Since it was a festival occasion, we thought it would be bad if we raided the place and instead made them aware that what they were doing was a crime,” he said.
Anikumar said wine with alcohol content cannot be brewed and it should only be purchased from the Bevco or Consumerfed outlets. A person, at a time, should not keep more than six bottles also, reads the Abkari rules.
In the run up to the New Year celebrations, the Excise officers will be tightening their scrutiny on shops that sell wine with alcohol content.
Sources said several confectionery shops and super markets were selling wine and strict action would be taken against them if their product is found to have presence of alcohol.
New Year parties under radar
Meanwhile, certain resorts and hotels that plan to conduct New Year parties using the logos of alcohol brands are set to face punitive action. Advertising of alcohol is a crime as per Abkari Act. Hence the brand names or the logos should not be used in the advertisements of New Year parties, warned a senior Excise officer.