- A critical analysis of the issue of Alcohol ban in India
- Constitutional grounds of ruling
- Why High Court’s decision is not right?
- State with ban on liquor
- Rationale behind liquor ban
- Why prohibition has not been effective?
Recently, Uttarakhand High Court has extended the government’s order of prohibiting the liquor outlets in the vicinity of places of worship, to cover Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi from April 2017.
It has also banned tobacco products within a five-km radius of three gurdwaras.
The court’s decision has come after a petition challenging the grant of a bar licence at a location near Haridwar.
Constitutional grounds of ruling
In the ruling court has cited Article 47 of the Constitution, which says
- It is the duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living of the people and improve public health,
- And to prohibit the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs.
Why High Court’s decision is not right?
Earlier this year the Supreme Court refused to entertain a petition seeking a nation-wide ban on alcohol, observing that this was a matter of policy into which it cannot venture.
Recently Supreme Court cautioned judges against assuming powers based on individual perceptions or notions.
High Court has taken this decision, even after observing that the State government “has taken laudable measures to prohibit the sale of liquor in specified areas”.
This decision clearly is the encroachment of court into the sphere of government authority.
Constitution has provided judiciary and executive with their own sphere of power and decision making. Encroaching into each other’s sphere only undermines the ideals of constitution.
State with ban on liquor
- Lakshadweep is the only union territory that bans the sale and consumption of alcohol.
- Consumption is permitted only on the island of Bangaram.
- The Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act (NLTP) banned the sale and consumption of alcohol in 1989.
- Publishing of advertisements on liquor in newspapers are also prohibited under the Act.
- Enforcement of the ban is lax and Indian Made Foreign Liquor is readily available.
- Liquor was banned for long periods during the pre-Independence days, most of the states lifted bans soon after India achieved freedom.
- But Gujarat, after its formation in 1960 out of Bombay State, continued the ban and still enforces it to this day.
- Bihar government has put a complete prohibition of alcohol in the state.
- The Congress government in Kerala introduced a liquor policy in August, 2014 advocating for total prohibition.
- But the policy was opposed by the bar owners.
- High court in December 2015, backed the state’s liquor policy restricting the sale of alcohol only to five-star hotels and establishments.
States that experimented with liquor ban
Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and Manipur are all states that have experimented with partial or complete ban on liquor.
Rationale behind liquor ban
- According to NCRB data, 15 people die every day – or one every 96 minutes – from the effects of drinking alcohol.
- Per capita consumption of alcohol in India increased 38 percent, from 1.6 litres in 2003-05 to 2.2 litres in 2010-12.
- More than 11 percent of Indians were binge drinkers, against the global average of 16 percent.
- Maharashtra reported the most alcohol-related deaths, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
- Major crimes and accidents are fuelled by alcohol, which also leads to sexual harassment of women and robberies.
- Alcohol abuse is said to be the major reason behind that Tamil Nadu has the largest number of widows under 30 years of age.
- According to the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre, quarter of all hospital admissions and 69 percent of all crimes in Kerala are due in part to intoxication.
Why prohibition has not been effective?
- There are many examples in place which proves that previous bans in many states have not worked according to the expectations.
- There are various reasons behind that:-
- Prohibition of substances which give pleasure to people does not work.
- Prohibition is rejected by most public health scientists who know this field, even the World Health Organisation does not recommend it.
- Both law and religion have not been successful in preventing the spread of alcoholism in their countries.
- In Muslim countries, where the injunction against drinking is often the strongest, there has been a steady rise in alcohol sales and consumption.
- According to a survey by Euromonitor, a research firm based in London, alcohol consumption rose by 25 percent in West Asia and Africa between 2005 and 2010.
- Ban deprives States of an important source of revenue.
- For instance, in Tamil Nadu nearly Rs.30,000 crore, or 1/4th of its revenue in 2015-16, came from taxes on the sale of alcohol and excise on manufacturing spirits.
Mizoram revoked 18 years of prohibition last year due to:-
- Spread of the bootlegging industry and
- Falling tax revenues from alcohol
Gujarat has had a total alcohol ban since 1960, but this hasn’t stopped the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state.
It has been reported that Its easier to get alcohol than food in Gujarat, with home-delivered bottles.
Haryana and Andhra Pradesh have also tried the failed experiment, only to roll back the prohibition within few years.
The history and facts clearly shows that liquor ban has not provided the governments with the intended results, thus government must come up with measures that can change the attitude and behavior of the citizens of India towards liquor consumption. This goal can be achieved only through better information and education about the evils of alcohol consumption to the young generation.