Assam amends law to tackle public drinking

Guwahati, Feb 21 (IANS) Here is a piece of bad news for tipplers in Assam: Public consumption of alcohol and creation of nuisance in an inebriated condition may land a Bacchus worshipper in jail for six months along with a fine of up to Rs 50,000.

The Assam Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed an amendment bill to the Assam Excise Act, 2000, to make the rules more stringent to stop the menace of public drinking and other crimes under the Excise Act.

“Sections 61A and 61B have been inserted to make alcohol consumption in public punishable with a fine up to Rs 50,000 and imprisonment up to six months,” Excise Minister Parimal Shuklabaidya told the media outside the Assembly.

At present, drinking in public places is a bailable offence and offender(s) can be released on a personal bond without any fine.

“We have also made offences under Sections 53 (1), 54 and 55 — bailable earlier — as non-bailable. While Section 53(1) deals with penalty for unlawful import, export, transport, manufacture, possession, sale of liquor etc, Section 54 deals with unlawful possession in certain cases such as duty-evaded intoxicants,” he said.

The penalties under Section 53(1) and Section 54 has been made more stringent and are now punishable for up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.

“Section 55 deals with penalty for altering or attempting to alter any denatured spirit that may be used for human consumption. Penalty provision under Section 55 made punishable with imprisonment for up to five years and fine up to Rs 2 lakh,” said the Minister who initiated reforms in the revenue generation mechanism of the Excise Department after the new government took over in May 2016.

“Section 76 of the Act has been amended to rationalise the power to compound bailable offences under this Act and to introduce procedure for seizure of vehicles etc. Also in case licence holder committing the same offence the second time, his compounding fee will be double of the amount paid earlier,” Shuklabaidya said.

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