Ban on liquor in Mizoram
Mizoram has become the latest to prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol.
Mizoram government has passed the Mizoram Liquor Prohibition Bill 2019 banning the sale and consumption of alcohol for the general public after March 31.
A Brief on liquor Prohibition in India
• In the 19th and 20th centuries the temperance movement in India aimed at curbing the use of alcohol in the country.
• The temperance movement had led to alcohol prohibition in India at various states, as with Manipur.
• Mahatma Gandhi was at forefront of the liquor ban movement during Independence struggle and viewed foreign rule as an obstacle to national liquor prohibition.
• When India gained independence in 1947, prohibition was included in the Constitution of India and the government of several states introduced it.
• The States of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala, Manipur and Tamil Nadu have previously enforced, but later repealed prohibition.
• Presently the states of Bihar, Gujarat, Nagaland, and Lakshdeep (UT) observe liquor prohibition.
Constitutional Provisions w.r.t. Prohibition of Liquor
• Liquor prohibition under 7th schedule is a subject of state list. The entry 51 in the State List makes “Alcohol for human consumption” a subject matter of states. This provides states the power to make laws and charge duties on alcoholic liquors for human consumption.
• The Article 47 of the constitution of India comes under the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP).
• The Article 47 states that “….the 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}”. Since the Directive Principles are not-justiciable rights of the people but they are fundamental for the Government of the country.
• The Article 37 of the Indian constitution directs the State, that, “It shall be the duty of the State to apply Directive Principles of State Policy principles in making policy laws.”
• The Article 38 of the constitution of India directs to the State and Union Governments to secure a social order for the
promotion of welfare of the people. The Article 38(1) states that “The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life.”
Impact of Liquor Prohibition
The liquor prohibition has both positive and negative effects on the Social and economic life of people.
• The Prohibition in the states of India that have implemented the policy, has led to lower rates of drinking among men, as well as a decreased incidence of violence against women.
• In the state of Bihar, this adopted Prohibition in 2016, the number of murders and gang robberies decreased by 20% from the previous year.
• The number of riots fell by 13% and traffic accidents were reduced by 10%.
• With respect to the economy, the amount of spending per household rose—a 10% increase in milk sales, a 200% increase in cheese sales, a 30% increase in two-wheeled vehicles, and a 50% increase in electrical appliances. In villages, brick houses are gradually taking the place of mud huts since state Prohibition came into effect.
Do You Know?
In cases of ‘hooch’ tragedy, toxicity often comes from drinking methanol (methyl alcohol), which results in blindness, tissue damage or death.
• On economy front – Prohibiting alcohol leads to loss of taxes and legitimate jobs.
• It prompts underground or black-markets – People who want alcohol will still be able to purchase it or make it, albeit at a higher cost and purchased from shadier locations.
• The prohibition also places a heavy burden on the State to rehabilitate those left unemployed by the closure of hundreds of bars, as well as states suffer a loss of taxes coming from the regulated liquor businesses.
• Prohibition effected on freedom of choice – People should have the freedom of choice to decide to drink alcohol or not, as long as that freedom does not infringe on the freedom of other people.
• Therefore a law prohibiting alcohol would remove the freedom of choice.
• Similarly, to the previous reason, people should be free to harm themselves.
Indian States Practicing Liquor Prohibition
• In Bihar, there is an alcohol ban since 1 April 2016. Sale and consumption of any type of alcohol in hotels, bars, clubs and any other place is illegal in Bihar.
• Later on 30 September 2016 Bihar High Court ruled that the ban is “illegal, impractical and unconstitutional”. Although even before the High Court order came, the government had drafted a new law to keep from withdrawing the ban.
• The Supreme Court Bench stayed the high court order and ordered that the Ban on liquor and fundamental rights do not go together.
• Gujarat is the only Indian state with a death penalty for the manufacture and sale of homemade liquor that results in fatalities.
• The State of Bombay had the liquor prohibition between the year of 1948 and 1950, and again from 1958.
• After the bifurcation of Bombay State into the States of Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960, the Gujarat State has a sumptuary law in force that proscribes the manufacture, storage, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The legislation has been in force since 1 May 1960.
• The Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 is still in force in Gujarat state. However, Maharashtra grants the licenses to alcohol vendors and traders.
• In Nagaland, the sale and consumption of alcohol is prohibited by the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act (NLTP) 1989. However, enforcement of the ban is lax and Indian Made Foreign Liquor is readily available.
• Lakshadweep is the only union territory that bans the sale and consumption of alcohol.
• Here Consumption of liquor is permitted only on the island of Bangaram. Bangaram is an uninhabited island of Lakshadweep territory.
• Though, Prohibition of liquor is laudable but it has consequences. State governments should have to be prepared to deal rapidly with the management of man-made disasters such as liquor tragedies.
• Increasing the legal age of drinking and bring about uniformity in the same across all the states might be helpful to contain the negative-effects of liquor.
• There is need of De-addiction and rehabilitation centers that should be made easily and widely accessible and be fully functional before any decision on prohibition is taken.
• Documenting good practices tried and tested by NGOs and other institutions for managing alcohol problems not only within the country but also outside the country can be helpful in implementing the prohibition policies.
• Civil society should demand from its political parties a comprehensive policy that addresses all the related issues instead of uncritically demanding or accepting proclamations of prohibition.
• A pragmatic approach that accepts drinking as part of the social culture and aims to regulate it is likely to be a more effective stance rather than taking a moralistic or emotional view that views drinking as the purveyor of all evils.