Patna High Court quashes Bihar Prohibition of Liquor Act

Sep 30, 2016 15:00 IST

Patna High Court on 30 September 2016 quashed Bihar government notification completely banning liquor in the state. The court said that the notification is ultra vires to the Constitution.

A division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari and Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh quashed the 5 April 2016 notification of the state government to stop consumption and sale of alcohol in the state.

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The court in its verdict said that the notification is ultra vires to the Constitution, hence not enforceable. The same bench had on 20 May 2016 reserved its order on a batch of writ petitions filed by Liquor Trade Association and many individuals challenging the liquor law which has stringent penal provisions.

Ultra vires means beyond one's legal power or authority. If an act requires legal authority and it is done with such authority, it is characterised in law as intra vires.

The Nitish Kumar-led Grand Secular Alliance government had first banned the manufacture, trade, sale, consumption of country-made liquor since 1 April 2016, but later imposed a blanket ban on all types of liquor including foreign liquor in the state.

In August 2016, the liquor law was made more stringent after the Assembly passed the Bihar Excise and Prohibition Bill with voice vote. Under this law, all adult members of the family could be arrested if liquor was found stored in any household. It also called for collective fines on villages and localities which are found repeatedly breaking prohibition law.

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