Extensive amendments made to Bihar liquor law: SC told

06:28 PM Apr 05, 2022 | PTI |

The Supreme Court was on Tuesday informed that “extensive amendments” have been made to the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016, which was enacted to ban the manufacture, trade, storage, transportation, sale, and consumption of liquor in the state.


The apex court is seized of pleas, including the one which challenges the constitutional validity of the Act.

A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar was told by senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Bihar, said that amendments have been made on April 1. “On April 1, extensive amendments have been made to the Bihar Prohibition Act,” Kumar told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Oka and C T Ravikumar.

He said that he would put it on record before the top court.

An advocate, appearing for one of the petitioners, told the bench that the state of Bihar has not yet filed a counter on their plea. “We will proceed on the basis of denial. Ultimately, it is constitutional validity, what counter can be filed,” the bench observed.


It posted the matter for hearing after two weeks and said the parties are at liberty to file additional documents on or before April 18.

The top court had in February this year allowed a transfer petition filed in the matter saying as the identical issue is pending consideration here, it would be appropriate that other writ petitions filed before the Patna High Court be transferred and heard along with the petitions pending in the apex court. During the hearing on Tuesday, the bench was informed that the high court record has not yet come.

”Registry is directed to do the needful in the matters, including to explore the possibility of retrieving the record through online/email or by special messenger,” the bench said and posted the matter for hearing on April 20.

Advocate Rishi Awasthi appeared for Bihar Excise Department.

On March 30, the Bihar Assembly had introduced and passed an amendment bill that seeks to make the law less stringent for first-time offenders in the state.

Around Diwali last year, the state was rattled by hooch tragedies in a number of districts that claimed more than 40 lives.

The Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, was enacted to ban the manufacture, trade, storage, transportation, sale, and consumption of liquor in the state.

The apex court, while hearing another matter on March 8, had pulled up the Bihar government for framing such legislation that has led to thousands languishing in jail and clogging the judicial system. The state had then told the court that the stringent Bihar liquor law would be amended.

While hearing the matter, the top court had said it is a matter of concern and remarked that the Bihar government has brought the law without any legislative impact study, and 16 Patna High Court judges are engaged in dealing with the bail applications.


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