The Delhi High Court on Friday issued a notice to the Delhi government on a Public Interest Litigation seeking lowering of the legal age of drinking in Delhi from the present 25 years to bring it at par with other states where the legal age of drinking is anywhere from 18 to 21 years.
The PIL moved by advocate Kush Kalra prays for “quashing of section 23 of Delhi Excise Act, 2009 which prescribes 25 years as legal age of Drinking in the National Capital Territory of Delhi leading to discrimination against residents of National Capital Territory of Delhi compared to citizens of India residing in different states in India where the legal age of Drinking is less than 25 years”.
“If the aim (of Delhi Excise Act) is to focus on responsible consumption and Responsible sale of alcohol, then age is the most relevant criteria regarding responsibility, not only in relation to consumption of alcohol but also from other markers of what the law and society consider a person to be responsible. For example, the legal age of marriage in India is 18/21 years, the age for permanent license to drive is 18 years, the age for registration as a voter is 18 years,” it said.
Kalra prayed that the legal age of drinking in Delhi be reworked in consonance with the other laws in India while focusing on responsible alcohol sale and consumption.
The petition stated that as per Section 23 of the Delhi Excise Act, the minimum age of drinking is 25 years, as compared to states among others like Uttar Pradesh where as per the United Provinces Excise Act, 1910, the minimum legal age for alcohol consumption is 21 years; in Rajasthan, as per the Rajasthan Excise Act, 1950, it is 18 years; 21 years in Goa, 21 years in Telangana, 18 years in Puducherry, and 18 years in Sikkim.
Kalra, who is a teetotaler himself, also pointed the shocking response he received to his RTI application which revealed that no action was taken on underage people found consuming liquor nor has the sellers been penalized for serving alcohol to people below 25 years of age.
He also questioned the law enforcement in such cases where he said the consumers are never asked any age proof document before being served alcohol despite the same being mandatory under law.
Talking of the growing immigration and more and more people relocating for work, the petitioner, in his PIL filed through advocate Charuwali Khanna said, if a person from a state with legal age of drinking below 25 years comes to Delhi, he continues to drink and the law in the national capital criminalizes his drinking habit.