Alcohol laws in India

Alcohol is one of the intoxicating substances consumed by the people around the corner of the world. Alcohols laws are in India are not taken seriously and most of the people are not aware of it. There is no uniformity in it and varies from state to state. In it, the legal age for drinking and sale ad consumption of alcohol also includes. It is because the alcohol law is included in Seventh Schedule of the constitution of India and comes under the state list. Therefore, the state can modify the alcohol laws according to their own wish. In India, the sale and consumption of alcohol usually take place in bar, restaurants, pubs, clubs, discos, etc.

The state laws for consumption and sale of alcohol do not only mentions the age of drinking but where all places the liquor should be sold. In few states, even groceries and departmental stores also sell liquor as their state laws permit the same. As being the subject of the state list, the law varies from state to state. Therefore, the legal drinking age differs from state to state in India. There is a difference between consumption age and purchasing age. Consumption age is the age when any individual can legally consume the liquor while the purchasing age is the one when an individual can purchase liquor from the license holder.

Legal Age in different states

In the state of Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Karnataka, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Pondicherry the legal age of drinking is 18, following the state of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra (only beer), Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Orissa, Tamil Nadu has 21 years and in Punjab, Meghalaya, Haryana, Maharashtra (hard liquor), Chandigarh and Delhi, the minimum age specified is 25. There are few states, where the consumption of alcohol is illegal. They are Gujarat, Manipur, Nagaland and Lakshadweep.

Drunk- Driving Law                             

The drunken drinking law in India is governed by Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Section 185 of the Act states that if a person while driving a motor vehicle, has a Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) more than 30 mg in terms of 100 ml of blood, the said person shall be for the first time of the offence, be imprisoned for six months, or with fine which may be extend to two thousands, or both. If, the same person commits the offence for the second time within the period of 3 years for the commission of the first offence, the level of punishment increases. The punishment for the same will be imprisonment of two years or with a fine which may extend to three thousand rupees or both.

Public Drinking

Drinking in public places is prohibited as keeping in mind the society in which we live in. but people used to drink in public at a particular concern and secretly have liquor. But when, if caught, has to pay Rs 5000 and if, any nuisance is created by an individual in a drunk mode, then the fine increases to Rs 10,000 with a jail term of three months.

Dry Days

From the calendar year, there are some specific days when the sale of liquor is prohibited and if sold on that particular day, the license of the seller can be cancelled. Republic day (26 January), Independence Day (15 August) and Gandhi Jayanti (2 October) are considered to be the fixed days when the sale of liquor is prohibited throughout India as they are considered as the national holidays. Therefore, these days are considered as Dry day. There are few other days which are to be considered as dry day, according to the state laws for alcohol. These days also vary from state to state.

As mentioned above, the states where the sale of liquor is illegal, these kinds of states are known as Dry State.  In these state, the sale of liquor is totally banned. These states are called liquor-less state and there are separate laws which govern them

Gujarat:  Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment Bill), 2009 was passed by the governor of Gujarat.

Manipur: by the passing of Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act, 1991, the sale and consumption of liquor is totally banned.

Nagaland:  the sale and consumption of Alcohol was banned by passing Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act (NLTP), 1989

Bihar: the ban on sale and consumption is governed by Bihar Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Prices

The price of the alcohol also varies from state to state. Being the cheapest in places like Delhi, Goa, Daman and Diu and expensive in the states like Maharashtra.

Constitutional perspective

Article 47 of the constitution of India states that “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” [1]The constitution allows the state to use the intoxicating substances and drugs for the medical purpose. It prohibits the consumption as these are injurious to health. We have seen that the legal age for consumption, possession and sale of the liquor varies from state to state, but the law not being so abiding and strict, many small children who have not crossed the majority age drinks secretly. The consumption of alcohol is not necessarily for the rich people, but the middle and poor class people also consume to a very higher extent.  This is because the laws are not so strict that people can fear of it and the availability of liquor is so frequent, that even children can purchase it easily.

Intervention of Supreme Court

In the month of December 2016, the apex court of India took an intuitive to control the crimes for drunk driving.  Supreme Court bans the sale of liquor on all national and state highways from 1st April 2017. The court further directed that no shop for the sale of liquor shall be visible from a national or state highway, shall not be situated within the distance of 500 meters from the edge of the highway, all the advertisement for the availability of liquor shall be prohibited.

Conclusion

We all know that alcohol is injuries to health but despite knowing this fact, we, which includes various age groups, tends to have it. The addition of the same leads to various health issues and sometimes, loss of health. So, there is various provision made by every state to take steps towards it. It is essential to cure this issue as nowadays, the youth are driven crazy by alcohol and makes their life addictive to it. This addictiveness leads to various problems. We need to understand that youth are the future of our country and we need to safeguard them by making strict laws for alcohol in India.

[1] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1551554/



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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SAKSHI JAIN

Sakshi Jain is currently pursuing her BLS LLB from Government Law College, Mumbai. Although she’s keen to gain knowledge and explore things going around her, her priority always stays focused on law only. Although she yearns for a career in the corporate sector, she’s quite confident regarding her capability to endure in other fields also. A passionate law student and a natural reader, she wants to complete her master degree from Harvard, Oxford, or London University.

One thought on “Alcohol laws in India

  1. Thanks for the detailed writeup but the information about Uttar Pradesh is wrong, which happens to be the case on majority of websites right now.
    The source website indiankanoon also has it wrong.

    The age in UP is 21, not 18. It was 18 in initial law but changed to 21 in 1976

    Read up exact details about change in law here, so would be good to update your article:

    https://www.mrliquor.in/legal-drinking-age-in-india/#legaldrinkingageinstateofuttarpradesh

    Like

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