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Bihar prohibition law: Supreme Court rejects state appeal against bail granted in liquor cases

The Apex Court rejected the prayer of the Bihar government where it sought guidelines to ensure bail applications are dealt with taking into account the quantity of liquor confiscated from the accused.

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The Supreme Court expressed its displeasure over the Bihar government’s prohibition law, the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, saying dealing with the violations of the law itself hampers the functioning of courts.

The Apex Court dismissed a batch of 40 appeals by the state government challenging the grant of anticipatory and regular bail to accused under the prohibition law. The court held that 14 to 15 judges of the Patna High Court keep hearing only cases of violation of prohibition and this affects the functioning of the High Court.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana rejected the prayer of the Bihar government where it sought guidelines to ensure bail applications are dealt with taking into account the quantity of liquor confiscated from the accused.

The Court told the Bihar government that do you know that due to the plethora of cases related to the violation of prohibition law in the High Court, it is taking up to a year to list other cases for hearing.

The Bihar government had challenged the grant of anticipatory and regular bail to the accused under the prohibition law in the Supreme Court.

Advocate Manish Kumar for the Bihar government said the Patna High Court granted bail to accused who were involved in serious breach of the statute without assigning reasons despite the fact that the law provides for 10 years jail term to life imprisonment for serious offences under it.

As per media reports, in 2021, 66,258 cases of violation of prohibition law were reported in Bihar. At the same time, 45,37,081 litres of illegal liquor has been recovered in the last year. The most cases have been reported from Vaishali, Patna, Aurangabad, Muzaffarpur and Madhubani districts.

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