THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Christmas tradition of making wine at home will be treated as a non-bailable offence, according to the Excise Department. The department issued a circular to this effect ahead of the Christmas and New Year season.
A day after the circular was issued, a youth faced action for storing 40 litres of unprocessed wine at Veli in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.
The rule has created confusion among home winemakers and shops that stock homemade wines during festive season every year. The circular came a month after the government approves plans to amend excise laws to give licence to make wine and low-alcohol-content liquor from jackfruit, cashew and pineapple.
“I used to supply wines prepared at my home at Kattappana to neighbours in my flat till last year. But I have stopped after a techie was booked,” said Jeny Scaria (name changed), an IT company employee. Last year, a techie and her father landed in trouble after a popular Facebook page on eateries gave good reviews to their wines they prepared at home in Thiruvananthapuram.
As per the Kerala Abkari Act, brewing wine having alcohol content at home is an offence under Section 58, while selling it is punishable under Section 55 (i). In Tamil Nadu, individuals can make wines at home after taking food and beverages licence from the government, said John who collects spices for his wine-making unit in Tamil Nadu.
However, a senior excise officer said the circular was not to target people making wines at home for their own consumption. Action will be taken against wine makers who prepare and sell wine in large quantities illegally, he said. According to him, the excise will keep a close watch on people marketing wine on social media.
The department has formed special squads to check illegal preparation and sale of alcohol during the festive season. The squads have been directed to keep a vigil on state borders to check the flow of spirit to prepare Indian made foreign liquor. The drive will include action against people selling alcohol-mixed products sold as ayurvedic medicine. Excise deputy Commissioners have been directed to activate control rooms in all districts. The districts will have strike forces to conduct raids, according to the circular. Excise officers will coordinate with the police’s special branch for intelligence gathering.
Making wine at home will be treated as a non-bailable offence, according to the excise department.
The department issued the circular ahead of the Christmas and New Year season and has formed special squads to check illegal preparation and sale of alcohol