Recently, Ajit Sharma, Bihar Congress legislative party leader, wrote a letter to CM Nitish Kumar, demanding that the liquor ban in the state be lifted. While it apparently sounds absurd, the congress leader had some justifiable reasons for such demand. He alleged that liquor, though prohibited, is being sold under the table at hefty prices – two to three times higher than the MRP. With this, the ban has become a mere tool to mint money for the bootleggers. This was just one among the many other reasons that he has put forward.
Why of liquor ban across several states in India
While it may be a contentious topic today, liquor has been the cause of several crimes and therefore, its ban has been quite a revolutionary decision. From road accidents, domestic violence to health hazards, alcohol has been the reason for many social issues. However, it is not just Bihar, where alcohol prohibition law is put into practice. Nagaland, Mizoram, Gujarat are some of the other dry states in India.
The history of alcohol prohibition in India is closely linked to the temperance movement that was aimed at curbing the use of alcohol across the country, with Mahatma Gandhi being the flag-bearer of the movement. Post-independence, prohibition was included in the Directive Principles of the Constitution of India and Gujarat was among the first states to introduce it.
List of the states in India that have banned liquor:
In Bihar, liquor ban was official declared on April 5, 2016 by CM Nitish Kumar. The law prohibits not just consumption, but import, export, transport, manufacture, possession, and sale of liquor.
The legislations pertaining to prohibition of alcohol manufacture, storage, sale and consumption in Gujarat has been in force since May 1, 1960. The state government has earmarked up to 10 years in jail for manufacture, purchase, sale and transportation of alcohol.
Mizoram has banned sale and consumption of alcohol effective from February 20, 1997. However, in 2007, the law was amended and since then, distribution of fruit wines has been legalised, though, with certain restrictions. In 2015, the law was repealed and once again, in 2019, the Mizoram Liquor Bill was passed in the state assembly.
The liquor prohibition act was imposed in Nagaland in 1989 but this does not apply to locally brewed alcohol. Nonetheless, Nagaland remains a wet state unofficially as the flow of Indian-made foreign liquors are readily available.
Lakshadweep remains the only union territory in India that bans sale and consumption of liquor. Bangaram is the only island within the union territory where alcohol is not prohibited.
While the ban of liquor has had a positive social impact to some extent, it has come at a price, the most obvious of which has been the downturn in economy across those dry states.