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Are Offences Under Bihar Prohibition Act Quantity Based? Supreme Court To Consider

Radhika Roy
25 July 2021 2:14 PM GMT
Are Offences Under Bihar Prohibition Act Quantity Based? Supreme Court To Consider
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The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice in appeal filed by the State of Bihar against a 4th March 2020 order passed by the Patna High Court wherein bail had been granted on the grounds that offences under the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, are not quantity-based.A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta heard the submissions of Advocate Shivam Singh and proceeded...

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The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice in appeal filed by the State of Bihar against a 4th March 2020 order passed by the Patna High Court wherein bail had been granted on the grounds that offences under the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, are not quantity-based.

A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta heard the submissions of Advocate Shivam Singh and proceeded to issue notice in the matter.

The instant plea submits that the Patna High Court had erroneously granted bail to the Respondents and that by doing so, it had exceeded its jurisdiction as the finding amounted to the questioning of the legislative competence of the State Assembly.

Stating that State of Bihar observes total prohibition vide the Prohibition Act regarding manufacture, possession, buying, selling, distribution, collection, storage, bottles, imports, exports, transportation of any intoxicant, liquor and hemp, the plea states that it sets it apart from the NDPS Act which prescribes different sentences for different quantities of contraband. However, under the Bihar prohibition law, the punishment for any quantity of liquor remains the same.

The plea, which has been filed by Advocate Manish Kumar and drawn by Advocate Keshav Mohan, contends that not only does the finding of the High Court amount to questioning of legislative competence as stated above, it also breaches the well-established constitutional principle of separation of powers, and is therefore, liable to be set aside.

"The Hon'ble High Court ought to have considered that the impugned order/judgment has a far reaching consequence inasmuch as it seeks to make a distinction on the basis of quantity of the liquor seized which was never the intention of the State Legislature. Hence, the interpretation of the Prohibition Act will defeat the very purpose of the Prohibition Act for which it was enacted by the State Legislature in furtherance of mandate provided to it under Article 47 of the Constitution of India".

Arguing that the High Court failed to consider that the Prohibition Act is special legislation enacted to give impetus to Article 47, the plea submits that granting bail to the accused at an early stage would frustrate the ideal of protecting society from the adverse effects of liquor as well as hamper the progress of the trial.

Referring to the presumption of guilt under Section 32 of the Act, it has been stated that presumption exists the moment there is recovery of liquor and the ground that sampling of the entire bottle had not been done is erroneous as it lies contrary to the Section.

It has further been submitted that the accused were caught with a huge quantity of liquor and that the High Court has completely overlooked the incontrovertible evidence which suggests involvement of the accused in the commission of offences.

In light of the above, the petition prays for the 4th March 2020 order of the Patna High Court to be set aside.

(Case : State of Bihar vs Vinit Kumar, SLP (Crl) 5058/2021)

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