Himachal prescribes death for causing liquor deaths

December 16th, 2009 - 10:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Dharamsala, Dec 16 (IANS) To deter smuggling of alcohol and to make a stricter liquor policy, the state assembly Wednesday passed the Himachal Pradesh Excise Bill, 2009, providing for stiff fines as well as a death penalty for making and selling illicit liquor that causes death on drinking.
Moving the bill in the assembly, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said: “The bill aims to curb the rising illicit trafficking of liquor. It’s also considered essential to make more effective and stringent provisions in relations to penalties, confiscations of liquor.”

Under the bill, offences relating to smuggling of liquor will attract a jail term of up to three years with a fine ranging from Rs.5,000 to Rs.2 lakh. There is also a provision for a death penalty for causing the death of a person by manufacturing and distributing spurious liquor.

“Any vehicle intercepted carrying smuggled or spurious liquor would be impounded and auctioned,” said Dhumal, who is also holding the excise portfolio.

The bill also prohibits any liquor shop from employing any person less than 18 years old.

Similarly, the legal age for drinking also is fixed at 18 years.

Drinking in public places will now attract a fine between Rs.2,000 to Rs.10,000.

The Himachal Pradesh government estimates say the state is losing over Rs.50 crore annually because of liquor smuggling from neighbouring states, especially Chandigarh.

An official in the excise department said, low levies on spirits in Chandigarh seem to be leading to increased smuggling of liquor from there to the hill state.

The levy on a bottle of liquor was around Rs.88 in Himachal Pradesh, while it was just Rs.15 in Chandigarh, he noted.

With the new bill, the excise officials have been empowered to establish posts or barriers at certain places to check smuggling of liquor, the official added.

The opposition Congress demand for certain amendments in the bill was turned down.

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