Ahmedabad: In the backdrop of the recent hooch tragedy in the state that claimed over 130 lives, the Gujarat Assembly on Tuesday passed a bill proposing stringent punishment up to death penalty to deal with illicit liquor trade.
The Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill 2009 was passed with a majority vote in the House. "We have taken a historic step to pass such a bill in the current session of the Assembly, to amend prohibition law making it very stringent with an aim to control illicit liquor tragedy," minister of state for Home, Amit Shah, said while introducing the bill.
Under the amendment, the government has sought to award death penalty for manufacturing or selling hooch provided the consumption of the product results into any death.
A new section 65A has been inserted which provides for punishment for manufacturing spurious liquor.
Opposition Congress members were not present in the assembly as they have been boycotting the proceedings over their demands for extensive debate on hooch deaths.
The amendment says that those indulging in manufacture, transportation, stocking and sale of illicit liquor shall be liable for punishment of upto 10 years.
In no case, the punishment would be less than seven years. Another new section 94A has been proposed to be inserted which provides for punishment for failure in duty by prohibition officials or police officers.
Under this section, the officials are liable for punishment of upto one year for negligence in duty.
Moreover, vehicles transporting liquor would be confiscated by the authorities.
"It is also provided that conveying vehicles used in transport of the liquor shall not be released on bond or surety, in cases of where the quantity of the seized liquor exceeds the quantity as may be prescribed by rules, till the final order of the court," the bill stated.
The bill will be sent to the Governor for approval. After the hooch tragedy, liquor baron Vijay Mallya had slammed Gujarat government for its prohibition policy.
However, with this step, Gujarat government aims at making prohibition law more stringent in the state.