Liquor Prohibition – Critical Analysis
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|LIQUOR PROHIBITION – CRITICAL ANALYSIS|
- Prohibition is the illegality of the manufacturing, storage in barrels or bottles, transportation, sale, possession, and consumption of alcohol including alcoholic beverages, or a period of time during which such illegality was enforced.
- In India, Alcohol consumption has always been overshadowed by a sense of moral judgment that has driven the demands for prohibition.
- Consequently, policies related to the consumption of alcohol are generally shaped by this moral ambiguity rather than a comprehensive liquor policy.
- In the aftermath of Independence, the Indian government did not impose a centralized regulation regarding alcohol consumption.
- Under 7th schedule it is a subject of state list (entry 51) – “Alcohol for human consumption” a subject matter of states. This provides states the power to make laws and charge duties on alcoholic liquors for human consumption.
- 47 under DPSP directs the states to take measures to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.
- 47 directs that the state shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.
- Most liquor ban policies are justified on the basis of this article.
|PROHIBITION IN INDIA|
- At the moment, complete prohibition is enforced in the states of Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland, and the union territory of Lakshadweep.
- In Gujarat, prohibition is implemented since its formation in 1960.
- In Nagaland, Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act (NLTP) banned the sale and consumption of alcohol in 1989.
- Bihar government has put a complete prohibition of alcohol in the state in 2016
- Gujarat and Bihar are the states that prescribe death penalty for manufacturers, suppliers and sellers of hooch in cases of death due to spurious liquor consumption.
- Kerala currently allows alcohol to be served in three star hotels and above, bars and airports.
- In 2014, congress government in Kerala advocate for total prohibition in phased manner.
- But, ban was eased when left government came in power in 2016 citing loss in revenue and tourism Industry.
- In Manipur there is a partial ban in a few districts.
- Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, and Mizoram are states that have experimented with partial or complete ban on liquor.
- In 2016, Supreme Court banned the sale of all liquor within 500m of highways to counter drunken driving.
- However, SC later clarified that high way liquor ban imposed by it is not applicable to licensed bars and beverages outlets within municipal area.
|ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF PROHIBITION|
- To reduce crime and corruption – ADRI report on prohibition in Bihar noted there was a 6% dip in cases of kidnapping for ransom, followed by 28.3% dip in murder cases and 2.3% in dacoity.
- To reduce the state’s expenditure otherwise spend on public health and law & order.
- To improve health and hygiene – ADRI report finds an impressive rise in sale of honey (380%), cheeses (200%), butter milk (40%), flavoured milk (28.4%) and lassi (19.7%)
- To bring positive impact on women and families – ADRI report observed that 58% women feel they were given more respect and played a better role in making household decisions
- Prohibition helps money to get directed towards health and education in family. It paves way for development – ADRI study on Prohibition in Bihar pointed out that 19% of households acquired new assets from the money they earlier splurged on alcohol.
- In India, the common mass is generally occasional drinker. Curtailing alcohol supply will in hand curtail their drinking behaviour.
- According to NCRB data, 15 people die every day – or one every 96 minutes – from the effects of drinking alcohol.
- Many accidents are fuelled by alcohol.
- Many a times it leads to sexual harassment of women and robberies.
|ARGUMENTS AGAINST PROHIBITION|
- Revenue from excise meant for welfare schemes to vulnerable sections is reduced.
- Prohibition is contrary to fundamental right of freedom of choice and right to privacy as well.
- It is against the customary culture and tradition of many societies.
- It impacted the tourism and hospitality
- It may lead to loss of business & investment opportunities from the states – Carlsberg which had agreed to setup breweries plant in Patna had to relocate owing to Bihar liquor prohibition law.
- It causes unemployment and adversely affects livelihoods of many.
- Instead of decreasing corruption, prohibition became a basis for corruption and black marketing in public life.
- The problem of adulterated and methanol related consumption of liquor increases.
- It may lead to consumption of other unregulated drinks and drugs like taadi and mahua.
- An additional expenditure in terms of investment in the personnel required to implement prohibition.
|ASPECTS THAT NEED TO BE CONSIDERED WHILE FRAMING A LIQUOR POLICY|
- The principal reason why many prohibition strategy fail is because they seem to be based on the simplistic assumption that cutting off the supply impacts effective demand for alcohol.
- Increase legal age of drinking and bring about uniformity in the same across all the states.
- Ban marketing and advertisement of all kinds so as to contain its reach and spread.
- De-addiction and rehabilitation centers should be made easily and widely accessible and be fully functional before any decision on prohibition is taken.
- A stronger rule to monitor the use of methanol and frame policies that award a severe penalty for its diversion towards uses other than those for which it was acquired. Governments could consider linking de-addiction centers with primary health centers in rural areas.
- Invest in creating better awareness among citizens about the negative impact of alcohol consumption.
- Document good practices tried and tested by NGOs and other institutions for managing alcohol problems not only within the country but also outside the country.
- Community based approach should be adopted to tackle the problem of alcoholism.
- A pragmatic approach that accepts drinking as part of the social culture and aims to regulate it is likely to be a more effective stance rather than taking a moralistic or emotional view that views drinking as the purveyor of all evils.
|BAN ON LIQUOR VENDORS ON HIGHWAYS|
- In December 2016, the Supreme Court banned States and UTs from granting licences for the sale of liquor along National and State highways across the country.
- The judgment ordered that the prohibition on sale of liquor alongside highways would extend to stretches of such highways that fall within limits of municipal corporations, city towns and local authorities.
- It also ordered that no shop for sale of liquor should be visible from the National and State highways and noted that the visibility is the first temptation.
- Neither should they be directly accessible from the highways nor should they be situated within a distance of 500 metres from the outer edge of the highways or service lanes.
- It gave the Chief Secretaries and the State police chiefs a month’s time to chalk out a plan for enforcement of the judgment.
- India being a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety,it is imperative that policy guidelines are framed to control road accidents. Also, the excise policies of Indian states and UTs should be amended to conform to the spirit of 47 & Art. 21 of the Constitution of India.
|COURT’S RATIONALE BEHIND MOVE|
- SC noted that drunken driving was the main culprit behind a large number of road accidents in the country – 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads due to accidents.
- The judgment is a result of the deep concern the court had expressed recently on the 5 lakh fatalities annually in road accidents and about 15,000-16,000 deaths were caused because of driving under the influence of alcohol.
- The court said revenue generation could not be a “valid reason” for a state or a UTs to give licence for liquor shops on highways.