Drink in public, go to jail in Assam

GUWAHATI: Drinking in public would soon become a punishable offence in the state. And, if you are involved in a brawl or creating a nuisance after drinking, the punishment includes a three-month jail term.
On the first day of the budget session on Tuesday the state government tabled the Assam Excise (Amendments) Bill, 2017 to include these strict provisions with the principle objective of curbing drunken hooliganism and brawls. The amendment bill also proposes to make excise offences such as illegal storage of liquor, transport, labeling and sale non-bailable and to be tried by the court of law. The state cabinet had approved these amendments last December.

State excise minister Parimal Suklabaidya said that that the provisions for punishment for certain offences under the existing Assam Excise Act, 2000 were not adequate. “Illicit liquor and non-duty paid liquor are not only serious threats to human life but do lot of damage to the state exchequer. We need some strict measures to curb such offences,” he said.

The amendment bill has come when consuming of liquor inside private vehicles on many public roads, particularly GS Road in front of eateries during evening hours has become a regular site. Several public organizations and other bodies have been raising this issue for long.

Under the proposed rules, consuming alcohol at public places will attract a fine of Rs 5,000 and if the offender creates a nuisance, the fine will be up to Rs 10,000 with a jail term of three months. At present, drinking at public places is a bailable offence and the offender can be released on personal bond without any provision for fine.

Illegal stocking and transportation of liquor will become non-bailable offences with three years’ imprisonment with a fine of Rs 2 lakh fine from current punishment of only six months imprisonment without any fine.

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