New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed proceedings in the Patna high court in the case challenging Bihar’s new liquor prohibition law.
A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra said that the all cases in the high court concerning liquor ban will now be heard before the apex court.
On 2 October, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar notified the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 merely two days after the Patna high court had struck down the state government’s notification that sought to enforce complete prohibition in the state, terming it “quite unreasonable and draconian”. It said the ban can be justified in a police state and not in a civilized society.
On 8 October, the apex court had stayed the Patna high court ruling which had quashed a notification that sought to bring about complete prohibition on sale, manufacture and possession of liquor in Bihar.
The new legislation banning sale and consumption of alcohol, including Indian-Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) as well as spiced and domestic liquor, prescribes harsher punishment for possession and consumption of alcohol.
On 2 October, a division bench comprising Patna high court chief justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari and justice Navaniti Prasad Singh also held the penal provisions of prison sentences, collective fines on entire villages or towns and provisions for confiscation of property under the 5 April notification to be “arbitrary and unconstitutional”.
As a result of this, liquor prohibition in the state was lifted. However, two days after the law was struck down, the Bihar government came out with a new notification, the provisions of which prohibited liquor consumption and possession in the state.
The case will be heard next after four weeks.