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Drones to monitor illegal liquor manufacturing in Bihar

Over 3.5 lakh people have been arrested under the stringent prohibition law since April 2016 leading to crowded jails and clogged courts

“Now, drones will be used to monitor illegal liquor manufacturing in Bihar. A trial run has already been done on December 25 in which three companies participated,” State Excise Commissioner B. Kartikey Dhanji told The Hindu. “Soon, the department will finalise a company to use drones on performance basis.”

The Hindu learnt that three companies participated in the trial conducted in the Digha area in Patna, and a night vision drone trial was conducted at Kangan ghat in the Patna city area.

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In 2021, the State Excise, Prohibition and Registration Department conducted 3,436 raids, and 11,488 raids against illegal liquor trade, manufacturing and consumption were carried out by the State Home Department. “A total of 2,390 people were arrested under prohibition laws only this year,” Mr. Dhanji said.

The stringent Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act was brought into effect on April 5, 2016.

The Patna High Court recently announced the appointment of judicial officers as presiding officers in the State’s 74 special courts to hear cases involving the violation of prohibition laws. “The Patna HC has made these appointments on the recommendations of the Excise, Prohibition and Registration Department in accordance with the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act,” said a senior department official.

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Mr. Dhanji further said, “Continuous raids are being conducted in the State to arrest those engaged in the illegal trade of liquor and also to seize illicit liquor…During these raids, altogether 85,425 litres of illegal liquor, both Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) and country-made liquor, have been seized this year, along with 316 vehicles. As many as 59 people engaged in the home delivery of liquor were arrested.”

The 59 jails in Bihar have been crowded with people arrested under the prohibition law.

“More than 68,000 prisoners are currently lodged in all 59 jails of Bihar against their total capacity of 46,669, which means these jails are overpopulated by 21,000 excess prisoners,” said a Home Department official. “Nearly 10,000 people were arrested in last 55 days for violating the prohibition laws and of them, more than 6,800 were sent to jail,” he added.

According to officials of the State Excise, Prohibition and Registration Department, over 3.5 lakh people have been arrested under the prohibition law since April 2016. Hundreds of policemen and other officials too have either been suspended or are facing a departmental inquiry under the prohibition law in the State.

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, while delivering a lecture on “Indian Judiciary: Challenges and Future” on December 26 at a law college in Vijaywada, said that the prohibition law in Bihar is an example of “lack of foresight” in drafting legislation that “can directly result in clogging of courts.”. He added, “For example, the introduction of the Bihar Prohibition Act, 2016 resulted in the High Court being clogged with bail applications and because of this, a simple bail application takes one year to be disposed of.”

On the following day, addressing a public meeting in his ongoing social reform campaign at Sasaram, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said, “We will not allow anyone to drink liquor in Bihar. Please do not come to Bihar if you are thinking of drinking liquor.”

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