THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a boost for the film industry, the state government is moving to decriminalise offences for not exhibiting the statutory warning against liquor consumption at screenings or for issuing advertisements on liquor. None has been convicted in the state on both counts, Excise Minister M B Rajesh said on Wednesday.
He was replying to a discussion on the Kerala Abkari (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which aims to decriminalise both offences. Once enacted, violators of both provisions cannot be taken to court.
As per law, the penalty for showing scenes of liquor or liquor consumption at film screenings in theatres without the warning “consumption of alcohol is injurious to health” is imprisonment up to six months or a maximum fine of Rs 10,000, or both.
The penalty for unlawful liquor advertisements is a jail term extending up to six months or fine of Rs 25,000 tops, or both. The minister said the lone case registered was stayed by the High Court. The amendment proposes to decriminalise the offences and make them compoundable. As per the Bill, the penalty for film screenings without the mandatory warning would be a fine up to Rs 50,000 and unlawful advertisement would attract a fine of Rs 50,000.
Congress legislator Mathew Kuzhalnadan alleged that decriminalisation will result in violation of rules, thereby further popularising liquor consumption among youths.The minister said decriminalisation was part of the Ease of Doing (EoD) reforms to boost the industry. Several states and Union territories had decriminalised these offences. As many as 29,428 provisions have been decriminalised across the country as part of EoD reforms, he said.
Rajesh said IMFL consumption had declined in the state when compared to the previous UDF government’s tenure. IMFL sales, which stood at 1,149.11 lakh cases between 2011 and 2016, had dropped to 1,036.6 lakh cases during the first Pinarayi Vijayan government’s tenure from 2016 to 2021, he added.