Crackdown on liquor traders: Bihar tipplers may skip jail term if they identify supplier

Tipplers in dry Bihar may now be let off without a jail sentence if, upon being caught drunk, they spill the beans on their suppliers, a top official said here on Monday.

Excise Deputy Commissioner Krishna Kumar said the “relaxation” was being introduced with a view to tightening the noose on the network of smugglers and peddlers and drastically bringing down the number of people overcrowding jails on count of just consuming alcohol.

“We have been asked to spread the word so that we can crack down on liquor traders. We aim at fighting drinking, a social evil, and would give relief to those who cooperate with us,” he said.

On possible backlash from liquor traders, he said: “There is police for security.”

Asked if the move was part of the proposed amendment in the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, Kumar said: “It’s quite possible. We are trying to spread the word for now.”

The Excise Joint Commissioner said: “Over 3 lakh people have been booked only for drinking and many of them are in jail. We need to stop overcrowding jails and give legal relief to those who cooperate with us in tracking liquor traders.”

On Sunday in Begusarai, CM Nitish Kumar had said liquor traders were under eyes of drone cameras. He also announced Rs 1 lakh incentive to one planning to sell “neera or fresh toddy”.

As per government sources, first-time “drinkers” can get away with a penalty rather than face arrest; cases can be withdrawn; a vehicle in which liquor is found may no longer be confiscated and, if it is, can be released after a fine; a section dealing with “immediate” arrest may be deleted; bootleggers should face the brunt of the law.

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