PATNA: Expressing concern that destruction of seized liquor is affecting the ecology, the Patna High Court has asked the state pollution control board to make a scientific assessment of the areas where it is done and submit a report.
By destroying liquor without seeking 'no objection' from the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB), the state government has resorted to a measure that is against the mandates of the Article 47 of the Constitution which says that it is the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living and to improve public health, the court said.
Destroying illicit liquor is, in fact, leading to ecological imbalance within the vicinity where the same has been destroyed and has also become hazardous to human life. The State is under obligation to protect the life of the people," Justice Purnendu Singh said in the order.
Not only a large number of citizens have lost their lives due to consumption of illicit liquor, but it also has a further impact on the life of the people at large in whose vicinity such alcohol is destroyed, the court observed.
The court was hearing a petition of a person who was arrested last year for driving a vehicle carrying illicit liquor in Bihar which is a dry state.
The accused claimed that he is a juvenile and did not know that the vehicle was loaded with alcohol.
The superintendent of excise has informed the court that after seizure of the liquor, the same has been destroyed, "which is of yet another serious issue involved", the order said.
"The percolation of the liquor has caused the water table (to be) contaminated. The chemical composition of the liquor has affected the micro-organism found in the soil leading to infertility of soil. Such contaminated water has further affected the general health of the people in the said vicinity," the order read.
According to a police officer who refused to be named, seized liquor bottles are taken to an isolated place and crushed under the wheels of a road roller.
The court asked the BSPCB chairman to make a scientific assessment of the areas where liquor is destroyed by the state authorities and asked him to submit a complete report in this regard.
The judge also noted that in the instant case, the seized vehicle which was driven by the petitioner has two owners - one as per the number plate and another according to the engine number.
The court asked the authorities to look into the matter.
On the accused's claim that he is a juvenile "at the fag end of the trial", the order which was passed on March 29 said that the very purpose of engaging minors by liquor smugglers is that they will face trial in a juvenile court and will be free within months.
The matter will be heard again on April 12.
In April 2016, the Nitish Kumar government had put a ban on the manufacturing, storing, sale, and consumption of liquor citing increasing cases of domestic violence.