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Drinking in public will cost Rs.5,000 fine in India

New Delhi, Oct 5 (Calcutta Tube) Now possession of illegally imported liquor or not paying duty on foreign liquor could land you in jail plus a steep Rs.1 lakh fine. Drinking in public will attract Rs.5,000 fine, and drinking and creating a nuisance would invite a Rs.10,000 fine and a jail term — these are among provisions of Delhi government’s new excise law that came into effect Monday night.

Sale or manufacture of adulterated liquor would attract death penalty or life imprisonment and fine up to Rs.10 lakh, Delhi’s Finance and Excise Minister A.K. Walia told reporters here Tuesday.

The Delhi Excise Act, 2009, replaces the outdated Punjab Excise Act, 1914, which was extended to the national capital.

The law has been enacted to overcome instances of spurious and adulterated liquor, its smuggling and also its consumption in public places, he said.

‘In case of death due to consumption of noxious substances mixed with liquor, punishment of death sentence/life imprisonment and fine up to Rs.10 lakh will be awarded. In such cases, if any grievous hurt is caused, imprisonment shall be not less than six years which may extend to life imprisonment and fine up to Rs.5 lakh,’ Walia said.

In case of any other injury, imprisonment of up to one year and fine up to Rs.2.50 lakh while in case of no injury, imprisonment up to six months and fine up to Rs.1 lakh can be imposed.

The new law was passed by the Delhi assembly Dec 14, 2009, and notified on July 28 this year. Delhi has become the first state to enact its own Excise Act as per the Model Excise Act suggested by the central Ministry of Food Processing Industries, an official said.

The law has come against the backdrop of deaths due to consumption of spurious and adulterated liquor besides smuggling of such liquor from neighbouring states.

‘The new Excise Act has now sharpened teeth to tackle the challenges being thrown up by the anti-social elements, including liquor mafia,’ Walia added.

The prohibited area limit for sale of liquor near religious and educational institutions has been increased from 75 metres to 100 metres.

Possession of unlawfully imported liquor and non-duty paid liquor would invite imprisonment up to six months and fine up to Rs.1 lakh.

‘In case of unlawful import, export, manufacture, transport, possession and sale, the earlier Act had imprisonment up to three years and fine up to Rs.2,000, but this time there is an imprisonment between six months to three years and fine up to Rs.1 lakh. In case of offences relating to rendering de-natured spirit fit for human consumption, imprisonment up to one year and fine up to Rs.1,000 was mentioned in the previous Act, while in the new law imprisonment between two years and five years besides a fine up to Rs.2 lakh has been provided,’ Walia said.

The minister said the city government was concerned about consumption of liquor in public places. Now, this offence will attract a fine of Rs.5,000, compared to the meagre Rs.200 earlier. Consumption of liquor in public place and creating a nuisance will attract a fine up to Rs.10,000 and imprisonment up to three months.

People responsible for permitting drunkenness or allowing assembly of ‘un-social elements’ on the premises of liquor establishments will also be punished. ‘They will be fined up to Rs.50,000 and imprisonment up to six months,’ an official said.

Employing minors or selling liquor to minors will also attract more stringent punishment. Earlier, there was provision for a fine of Rs.500, but under the new Act it will attract imprisonment up to three months or fine up to Rs.50,000, or both.

Walia added that the age of employment of men in places where liquor is served and for sale of liquor has been reduced from 25 years to 21 years and restriction of employment of women has been done away with.

In addition, in order to facilitate quick recovery of excise revenue, powers have been conferred on the Excise Commissioner with the approval of the government to remit/reduce interest.

Certain new provisions have also been incorporated to give more teeth to the Act. ‘Provision for the disposal of confiscated goods by the Deputy Commissioner has been made. The powers to confiscate the intoxicants and other goods have been conferred on the deputy commissioner. The provision for compounding of minor offences has also been made for effective administration of the new law,’ the minister said.

Walia, however, clarified that the rules relating to the new law except on Chapter 10 have come into force. ‘The rates in respect of rules in Chapter 10 are yet to be finalised hence the existing duties/fees/price structure will continue for the time-being,’ he added.

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