Nagpur: The excise department in the district has accorded equal liberty to liquor consumers/ drinkers as it pays heed to the sale of liquor in the district. The departmental rules are as strict as the liquor-sellers have decried them. Under the pressure of liquor sellers, the rules of excise department are always violated cent per cent in continuity. At the same time, both the district administration and the excise department are ignoring the illegal act of liquor-sellers and collecting monthly pocket-money from each outlet.
In the district, there are 753 beer-bars, 101 beer shoppe, 308 country liquor shops and foreign liquor shops, and also there are selected big clubs wherein facilities of drinking as well as making drinks available are there. According to excise department rules,a licence is necessary if one wants to drink or purchase a liquor bottle. But in fact, an individual of any age-group can purchase wine from wine-shop and visit any bar to drink. Yet, the excise department ignores this fact of ongoing illegal which is beyond one’s understanding.
Under the rules of excise department, there is a provision of taking action against consuming liquor or serving liquor without permit or licence. Yet, the department sleeps on rules and neither does it enquire about nor takes any action against the defaulters. People can openly purchase wine from wine-shops without showing permit. The department is not at all serious about such illegal practice. It is all because bar or wine-shop owners pay pocket money (ranging from Rs 1000 to Rs 5000) per month to the excise departmental staff just for ignoring the licencee or non-licencee in the jurisdiction of their wine-shops.
As per departmental rules, daily consumers of wine are required to obtain licence/ permit from the department on yearly basis or for life long consumption. One has to pay Rs 5 for daily permit, Rs 100 for yearly permit and Rs 1000 for life long permit. The bar owners should serve liquor only after ensuring the permit or licence, but no bar owner bothers to check it. On the other hand, if any one wants to obtain licence he is charged more than the prescribed licence fee. This facility has been given to bar owners that they can issue a permit of Rs 5, but they do not insist on using this facility just to conceal their sale, and instead they oblige the departmental staff (by giving them their share).
If any knowledgeable person asks the head of excise department about it, the head would read out the rules but protect the rule-breakers. Actually, the district administration, first of all, must take action against the rule-breaking officials and staff of excise department and then act against the liquor sellers and consumers. But the paradox is that the department first oppressively nabs the drinkers just to show on record, and thus conceals its own weaknesses or illegal acts. In this regard a public interest litigation is likely to be filed in the court of law.
Many outlets on a single licence
The Liquor seller obtains only one licence for one outlet but run about a dozen retail sub-outlets and sells liquor in abundance. Such illegal practice is found more in rural areas. Such sub-outlets function more on ‘dry-days.’ The department knows it well, but still keeps quiet.
Rajeev Ranjan Kushwaha (firstname.lastname@example.org)