Prohibition in India
Prohibition in India exists in the states of Gujarat, Nagaland, Mizoram and parts of Manipur; as well as the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Kerala is implementing prohibition in phased manner. All other Indian states and union territories permit the sale of alcohol.
Bombay State had prohibition between 1948 and 1950, and again from 1958. Gujarat has a sumptuary law in force that proscribes the manufacture, storage, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The legislation has been in force since 1 May 1960 when Bombay State dissolved into Maharashtra and Gujarat. The Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 is still in force in both states, however the licensing regime in Maharashtra is quite liberal with granting licenses to vendors and traders. Gujarat is the only Indian state with a death penalty for makers and sellers of homemade liquor where fatalities are caused. The legislation is titled the Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2009. The legislation was prompted by numerous deaths resulting from the consumption of methyl alcohol.
Predictably, smuggling and illicit sale of alcohol are very common. "Folder" is a slang term of unknown origin, used in Gujarat to refer to a bootlegger who delivers alcohol on-demand.
On 21 August 2014, the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced, after a long persuasion from KPCC President V M Sudheeran, that state will implement prohibition in phased manner. The decision was supported by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Kerala Congress. Liquor bars in Kerala had to renew licenses every year. So the state government did not license any bar on 31 March 2014 resulting in closure of 418 bars. The state government also declared its intention of not renewing licenses of the remaining 313 bars in the state next year. The state owned Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) has 338 shops in state. Bevco will shut down 10% of them every year. Consumerfed, which has 46 shops, will also be closed. Starting 1 April 2015, liquor will be available only in 5-star hotels in the state. There were 14 5-star hotels in the state as of August 2014. Toddy, which has alcohol content of less than around 10%, will continue to be legally sold. All Sundays will be observed as dry days.
Lakshadweep completely bans the sale and consumption of alcohol. Consumption is permitted only on the island of Bangaram. Bangaram is an uninhabited island, but the Bangaram Island Resort has a bar.
Prohibition is enforced in the Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur districts of Manipur. Prohibition was enforced state-wide by the R.K. Ranbir Singh government with effect from 1 April 1991. Local brews called ashaba and atingba are available in most areas, and authorities usually ignore their sale and consumption.
In 2002, the Okram Ibobi Singh government lifted prohibition in the five hill districts of Manipur. The state Legislative Assemble passed the Manipur Liquor Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2002 on 31 July 2002 lifting prohibition in the five hill districts of Chandel, Churachandpur, Senapati, Tamenglong and Ukhrul. Prohibition remains in force in the 4 valley districts of Bishnupur, Imphal East, Imphal West and Thoubal.
The Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act (NLTP) banned the sale and consumption of alcohol in 1989. Enforcement of the ban is lax and Indian Made Foreign Liquor is readily available. Authorities generally turn a blind eye towards illegal sales. Reports have stated that some police officials themselves engage in bootlegging. The Congress party has termed prohibition a "total failure" and has pleaded for it to be revoked.
The excise department had earned around 600 lakh (equivalent to 30 crore or US$4.9 million in 2015) prior to prohibition. It earned about 10 lakh (US$16,000) annually in NLTP Act related fines as of June 2014. The Morung Express estimated that were about 500 illegal liquor bars in Dimapur, the largest city in the state, as of August 2014. Alcohol is also smuggled in from neighbouring Assam.
Dry Days are specific days when the sale of alcohol is prohibited. Dry Days are fixed by the respective state government. Most Indian states observe dry days on major religious festivals/occasions depending on the popularity of the festival in that region. National holidays such as Republic Day (January 26), Independence Day (August 15) and Gandhi Jayanti (October 2) are usually dry days throughout India. Dry days also depend on the establishment selling alcohol. For example, generally 5-star hotels do not have to observe all the dry days that liquor stores and small bars may have to. Dry days are also observed on and around voting days. National dry days also occur during Election Commission of India-ordained voting and result days.
Total prohibition was introduced in Madras State (which included Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema) when C. Rajagopalachari became Chief Minister in 1952. N. T. Rama Rao's successor N. Chandrababu Naidu repealed prohibition in 1997, claiming that it was "not successful or feasible because of the leakages within the state and from across the borders".
The Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition (MLTP) Act banned sale and consumption of alcohol in 1995. In 2007, the MLTP Act was amended to allow wine to be made from guavas and grapes, but with restrictions on the alcohol content and the volume possessed. It is illegal to transport these products out of the state.
Mizoram repealed prohibition on 10 July 2014, a period of 17 years after it had been imposed. On that date, the state Legislative Assembly passed the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Bill 2014 (or MLPC), replacing the MLTP Act.
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- This decision is backed by the Muslim League and the Christian dominated Kerala Congress and in many ways could be seen as a political decision.
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- Three cheers to dry days!
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