TN liquor law amended for stiffer penalties

Since the accused in such crimes get released on bail quite early, provisions should be added to the Act to prevent that.
Representative image
Representative image

CHENNAI : As the death toll in the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy keeps rising with 65 lives lost so far, the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Saturday amended the Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act, 1937 (TNPA) to enhance the prison term and fine for offences related to manufacture, possession, and sale of illicit liquor in the state.

Minister for Prohibition and Excise S Muthusamy, who tabled the bill, said as per the amendments, all the movable properties associated with the offence would be confiscated and unlicensed places used for consumption of liquor would be sealed. Heinous offences would be made non-compoundable, Muthusamy said.

The Principal Act already prescribes life sentence for those involved in these offences when they result in loss of lives. In the amendment, the quantum of the fine for such cases has been increased from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10 lakh. “In any other case, offences shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 5 years, but which may extend up to 10 years and with fine which shall not be less than Rs 5 lakh but which may extend up to Rs 10 lakh,” the amendment bill said.

Provisions to prevent early bail for accused in liquor cases: Minister

“It is also proposed to insert Section 52-AA in the Act to empower the executive magistrate to issue an order requiring those persons who are habitually committing the offences to execute a bond with sureties for substantial amounts to deter them from repeating the offence. Section 52-E of the Act will also be amended to provide for making of an application by the prohibition officer or the investigating officer before the jurisdictional court for the removal of a person convicted of certain offences under the Act from an area,” minister Muthusamy said.

Since the accused in such crimes get released on bail quite early, provisions should be added to the Act to prevent that. Without the concurrence of government pleader, persons arrested cannot be released on bail. Until the court is convinced that the accused will not indulge in such crimes again, the accused should not be given bail, Thennarasu said.

Following this, Law Minister S Regupathy read out the amendment to be inserted between Clauses 11 and 12 as 11A. Explaining the objectives of the bill, Muthusamy said the punishments provided in the original Act for some heinous crimes such as manufacture, possession and sale of illicit liquor are inadequate to deter habitual offenders. Under Section 5 of the Principal Act “rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to Rs 10,000” was imposed. This has now been replaced with “rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than three years but which may extend up to seven years and with fine which shall not be less than Rs 2 lakh but which may extend to Rs 3 lakh.”

A new Section 5A has also been inserted for sealing unlicensed places used for consumption of liquor. Section 6 of the Principal Act says imprisonment which may extend up to six months may extend up to Rs 1,000 or both will be imposed. As per the new amendment, the punishment will be “rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than two years, but which may extend up to five years and with fine which shall not be less than Rs 1 lakh but which may extend to Rs 2 lakh.”

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