The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the Bihar government on whether it had conducted any study or had any empirical data to show whether liquor consumption has decreased after the enactment of prohibition law in the state.
The top court said that though it is not raising a question on the intention of the government for the law, it is concerned that it is getting a number of bail applications, of which the lion’s share emanates from the prohibition law.
A bench of Justices K M Joseph, Krishna Murari, and BV Nagarathna posed the question granting anticipatory bail to one Anil Kumar, a resident of Madhubani district of Bihar, who was allegedly caught with more than 25 litres of foreign liquor in his car in 2015.
The top court rejected the submission of the state counsel that opposed Kumar’s anticipatory bail plea.
“Do you know how many bail applications are coming from Bihar to this court? A lion’s share of these bail applications is of the state’s prohibition Act. Has there been any study or has there been any empirical data to show that due to the prohibition act graph of liquor consumption in the state is coming down?” the bench asked the counsel for the state.
Justice Joseph said, “We are not questioning your intent for the enactment of the law but we are telling you the fact about the number of bail applications coming to this court. This is putting a burden on the judicial system. This happens when laws are enacted without conducting any study or there being any empirical data.”
The state counsel said an amendment was made in the prohibition law under which the first-time offenders can be released with a fine and it has drastically reduced burden on the judicial system.
When he alleged that a huge quantity of foreign liquor was recovered from Kumar’s vehicle, Justice Murari said, “Do you think 25 litres of liquor is a huge quantity? Why don’t you take a tour of Punjab then?”
Advocate Pradeep Yadav, appearing for Kumar, said his client was falsely implicated in the case as the car was only registered in his name and he was not in it when the recovery was made.
“The FIR was registered against him (Kumar) on November 3, 2015 for offences under IPC and the Bihar Excise Act of 2015, that is more than seven years ago,” he said.
The bench granted anticipatory bail to Kumar and said that in the event of his arrest in the case, he will be released on bail.
Kumar in his plea said police recovered 25.860 litres of illicit foreign liquor from a car, which was registered in his name.
“It is further stated that the petitioner has no connection with the recovered liquor and recovery is not made from him and the liquor had been planted in his vehicle and no recovery had been made from the petitioner and upon the false information the petitioner had been roped in the FIR,” his plea said.
Kumar had last year challenged the December 16 order of Patna High Court, which rejected his anticipatory bail application.
A trial court had rejected his anticipatory bail plea on September 20, 2022 in the case.