Nitish Kumar interacts with people on total prohibition in Bihar

Patna, Nov 14 (IANS) On the first day of his ‘Lok Samvad’ programme, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday made it clear that total prohibition with the stringent new Bihar Excise & Prohibition Act, 2016, will continue in the state, an official said.

Principal Excise Secretary Amir Subhani told media here that Nitish Kumar interacted with 37 persons on Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 during the programme.

“Interaction was positive with several people coming up with suggestions,” he said.

Subhani said hundreds of people have also sent their feedback on prohibition by e-mails, SMSes and letters to the state government.

According to officials present at the programme, Nitish Kumar said the government will not compromise on the stringent provisions meant to punish violators of total prohibition as “consuming liquor and its manufacturing are not fundamental rights”.

Officials said Nitish Kumar told people that he strongly believes in having discussion and debate on any issue with them.

He reiterated that over 16,000 people, mostly those engaged in manufacturing illicit liquor, have been arrested and sent to jail for violating the prohibition that came into effect in April 2016.

NItish Kumar also said that he is against innocent being harassed, arrested and punished under the stringent prohibition law.

Excise Minister Abdul Jalil Mastan said there will be no relief to violators of prohibition. “Some people have demanded more stringent provisions and increase of imprisonment term against violators of prohibition,” he said after interacting with the people.

However, some people have suggested that Nitish Kumar-led government should amend the act. “They have suggested to change the provisions like all adult members of the family would be arrested if liquor is found stored in any household and collective fine will be imposed on the village.”

The Patna High Court, on September 30, quashed the April 5 notification of the state government banning consumption and sale of alcohol in the state, saying it was ultra vires to the constitution.

Later, the state government moved the apex court which put the HC order on nold on October 7. The matter is likely to be heard on December 12.