With quashing of Bihar liquor ban, cases against arrested will go too

New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS) For about 14,000 people, who were booked under a controversial Biharlaw banning consumption, storage and sale of all types of liquor in the state, the Patna High Court verdict could bring a sigh of relief.

The state government can no longer pursue the cases registered against people after the coming into force of the April 5 notification banning all Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) in the state, says legal experts.

As many as 13,839 people were arrested for violation of the liquor law between April and August.

Ruling that Section 19(4) of the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016 was “ultra vires and unenforceable”, the Patna High Court had quashed the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s pet initiative as “unreasonable and draconian” which “cannot be justified in a civilised society”.

Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta said: “As the notification has been struck down by the court, all the cases against persons will go now.”

The view was supported by others such as senior advocate K.T.S. Tulsi who said the arrested persons will simply have to approach the respective court with an application to discharge them from the case.

“They will have to ask for discharge from the court concerned. Provided if the only charge against the accused is violating the prohibition policy which now has been quashed by Patna High Court,” Tulsi said.

Terming the law as draconian, senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta too favoured the high court verdict.

“Cases which may have been initiated cannot be proceeded with since the very Act has been struck down as illegal,” Gupta said adding, that, “the only exception will be where the judgment itself declares that it will have prospective effect.”

Advocate Pramod Dubey also said that the arrested persons will have to approach the concerned courts to get discharged.

“As the law has been struck down, entire proceedings would be vitiated. So, now there is no law under which they have to remain in jail.”

The April notification of the government was challenged in court by the Liquor Trade Association and a bunch of other individuals.