The Patna High Court on Monday dealt a blow to the Nitish Kumar government’s alcohol ban initiative. The court ruled that those made accused in a case should be granted anticipatory bail. It termed section 76(2) of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act as unconstitutional.
According to the Act formulated by the Bihar government, an accused in a prohibition case cannot be granted anticipatory bail. A single-judge bench of the Patna High Court had also earlier said that anticipatory bail could not be granted to an accused unless the section is termed as unconstitutional.
The new ruling by the state’s top court said that if a lower court denies bail to an accused in prohibition case, it would have to specify the grounds on which it was rejected.
In 2016 as well, the Patna High Court had imposed a stay on the alcohol ban law brought in by the Nitish Kumar government.
The High Court had then nullified the state government’s order issued in April 2016, which had declared Bihar a dry state.
The order was issued by the court on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an ex-serviceman, who had claimed that the order violated the rights of a citizen to choose what to eat or drink.
While many people have hailed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s ambitious plan of making Bihar a dry state, his rivals have alleged biased restriction on the same. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav recently claimed that there was home delivery of liquor in the state, terming the ban as a flop.
The allegations were made by the RJD chief while responding to questions on a recent hooch tragedy in the state that claimed at least four lives.
He alleged that liquor bottles were being brought to the state in trucks and was also helping the police department procure illegal money. According to him, those who were not beneficiary of this racket were resorting to production and distribution of illicit liquor.