Patna: Following allegations of poor implementation of the Total Prohibition Act in Bihar and recent deaths due to counterfeit liquor, the Nitish government is planning to amend the law to make it less stringent. Bihar Excise Commissioner B Karthikeyan on Monday said, “Amendments to the Prohibition of Alcohol Act have been under consideration for a long time. In 2018, for the first time, the law on quitting alcohol was amended. But the change we are bringing now is that earlier the judiciary had the right to leave with a fine of Rs 50,000 and now we are proposing that this right be given to the executive magistrate. The proposal is currently under discussion. This is not a final opinion, we will take feedback at different levels.

Another senior official said the first person caught drunk would not be arrested, but would be released on the spot after paying a fine. A research bill in this regard is likely to be introduced in the next session of the Legislative Assembly in February.

A research bill in this regard is likely to be introduced in the next session of the Legislative Assembly in February. “The government may make some changes in the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016,” the official said. Is considering introducing a provision for financial penalties to relax the rules.

“Those caught drunk are fined and released on the spot. However, this does not apply to repeaters. Failure to pay the fine is punishable by up to one month’s simple imprisonment, but is punishable by an additional fine or imprisonment for repeated offenses or with both. A person who repeatedly violates the standards of the Prohibition Act can be sentenced to prison.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the state government, headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, was also considering a proposal to release the driver involved in alcohol violation on payment of fines. It is also proposed to increase the number of courts in the districts for disposal of cases related to alcohol ban. Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chaitanya Prasad said the issue was discussed during the inter-departmental consultation.

Officials did not elaborate on the reasons for amending the law enacted in 2016 to ban the production, trade, storage, transportation, sale and consumption of alcohol in the state. The chief minister’s coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have come under attack after drug-related scandals that claimed the lives of more than 60 people in the state in the last six months. In Nalanda district earlier this month, 11 people were killed by drinking fake liquor.

Last year, more than 40 people lost their lives due to counterfeit liquor in some districts of the state around Diwali. Hindustani Awam Morcha chief and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, a member of the ruling National Democratic Alliance in Bihar, has demanded the repeal of the anti-alcohol law.

BJP spokesperson Arvind Kumar Singh said the ban in Bihar had failed because the authorities did not strictly abide by it and used it to embezzle money. The Supreme Court recently observed that the liquor law in Bihar is affecting the functioning of the judiciary. Only 14-15 judges of the Patna High Court are hearing bail petitions relating to arrests made under the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act. Alcohol and Excise Minister Sunil Kumar, despite repeated attempts, remained unavailable for comment.

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