The Odisha Excise Bill-2005 still awaits Presidential assent four years after it was passed in the State Assembly.
The Bill, having stringent measures for illegal manufacturing of liquor and bootlegging, was introduced in the Assembly in 2005. It was passed in the Assembly in 2008 and sent for Presidential assent.
The Bill was consigned to the dustbin and the State Government had also stopped following it up with the Centre for the Presidential assent. The State Government revived tracking of the Bill after the hooch tragedy in Cuttack and Khurda districts early this year in which 35 people were killed.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to the then Union home minister P Chidambaram to expedite Presidential assent for the Bill. The Bill would replace the archaic Bihar and Orissa Excise Act, 1915. The Act was amended in 2006 to make excise offences cognisable, non-bailable and increase punishment.
In the new Bill, Excise offences have been made cognisable and non-bailable. Penalty for life imprisonment has been provided for accused in any liquor tragedy. Excise officers have been given the power of police officers in accordance with the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedures,1973, in the Bill. Provisions have been made for establishment of Excise stations on the lines police stations and trial of offences by special courts.