Bihar officers ‘aren’t applying their mind’ on liquor law: High court | India News – Times of India


PATNA: Irked by the manner in which state authorities are passing stereotyped orders on confiscation or auction of seized vehicles under Bihar’s liquor prohibition law, the Patna high court orally remarked on Monday that such actions by excise department officers were “glaring manifestations of their non-application of mind in implementation of the prohibition law”.
A division bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar, while hearing a batch of writ petitions filed by United Spirits Limited and others, directed the state excise commissioner to furnish data of last three months on arrests made in liquor crimes, social profiles of those arrested, number of vehicles seized and released, confiscations made and pending before various authorities.
The court also observed that the prohibition law is undoubtedly good but its implementation is poor and without application of mind.
The court directed the excise commissioner to upload all such data within a week.
The court expressed its annoyance over the manner and mode of disposal of confiscation cases by superior authorities of the excise department by citing its experience where litigants had approached the HC only because the superior forums hearing appeals against confiscations had reproduced “in verbatim” the collector’s order.
The CJ remarked that officers hearing appeals had simply “cut, copied and pasted” lines from orders passed by the collector. He added that such non-application of mind exhibited by state officers increased the pressure on the HC unnecessarily. Officers who do not know how to take decisions with independent minds are required to be trained at the Bihar Judicial Academy, it said.
The CJ asked how superior officers were justifying the sealing of houses under the prohibition law for over a year after the seizure of mere one-and-a-half litres of liquor? If a collector commits an error in appreciation of such fact, how can his superiors affirm the same while sitting at an appellate forum, he asked.
The division bench hammered the listless approach of officers in adhering to the state’s litigation policy.
Justice Kumar expressed displeasure at the manner houses were being sealed on seizure of liquor without giving any information to their landlords, a mandatory provision of the prohibition law. Writ petitioners have come to the HC for directions to the state to permit them to shift machinery of their closed liquor plants outside Bihar.
This matter will be next heard on September 2.





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