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HC bins liquor ban in Bihar, renders setback for Nitish

Patna, Sep 30 (IANS) Days ahead of the implementation of a stringent excise law in Bihar, the Patna High Court on Friday scrapped the total liquor ban in the state, a government lawyer said on Friday.

It is major setback to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had imposed the ban since April 1 this year. The Chief Minister would even suggest imposing a similar ban in other states during his campaigns outside Bihar.

A bench of the court after hearing a petition termed the total liquor ban as “illegal” and ordered the government to scrap it.

Earlier this month, the Bihar Prohibition & Excise Bill, 2016, was formally approved by Governor Ram Nath Kovind.

Last month, both houses of the Bihar legislature passed the bill with voice vote amidst boycott by the opposition.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party dubbed it a “black law” and a “draconian” measure. The party introduced a series of amendments, but all were defeated by voice votes in the assembly during the discussion.

Nitish Kumar recently announced that the new excise law would formally come into effect from October 2.

According to experts, the new law has stringent provisions for ensuring a total ban on consumption of liquor in the state. If it were implemented, all adult members of the family would be arrested if liquor is found stored in any household.

The Chief Minister had said the new legislation was required to plug gaping holes in the previous act that facilitated the liquor ban in the state with effect from from April 1.

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