The Yogi Adityanath government has recommended death penalty for those involved in the manufacturing and selling of illicit liquor. The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, an official release said here today.
The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to add a new section to the Excise Act to implement this move. According to this section, on death or permanent disability of a person due to consumption of hooch, the culprits will be given life imprisonment or up to Rs 10 lakh fine, or both. They could also be awarded death penalty if found guilty.
UP is the first state in the country to impose such a stringent punishment regarding illicit liquor. UP Excise Minister Jai Pratap Singh said, “The capital punishment will not just curb deaths due to hooch consumption but at the same time it will also put an end to smuggling of illicit liquor from neighboring states. This will also increase state revenue.”
Earlier, there was a provision of only minor fines for the culprits that ranged from Rs 500 to Rs 2000. UP Excise Minister Jai Pratap Singh said that the excise officials will be suspended or sacked if they were found hand in gloves with the culprits involved in the illicit liquor business. The Yogi cabinet also approved more than two dozen amendments to the Excise Act 1910. The rights of excise officers have also been enhanced.
The cabinet also approved the proposal to end the specified excise duty on liquor with effect from April 4, 2016 and agreed on the consideration fee as excise duty with effect from the same date.
The government said the prevalence of illicit liquor not only caused harm to life, but also reduced the State’s excise revenue. The government has been failing to meet its target revenue over the recent years and a major reason for it was the trafficking of illegal liquor from neighbouring States, particularly Haryana, a spokesperson said.
In 2016-17 U.P. earned a excise revenue of ₹14, 272 crore. UP seems to have taken a cue from Gujarat where Narendra Modi as the chief minister of the state had introduced the provision of capital punishment in such an offence in 2011.
The authorities feel that the provision for life imprisonment and death penalty may act as some deterrent in the state where hooch tragedies take place frequently.
In July only, 17 people died in Azamgarh after they consumed spurious liquor. Earlier 28 people died in a similar tragedy in Malihabad area of Lucknow in 2015.
Making a case for harsher punishment with regard to illicit liquor trade, the excise department had pointed out to the government that large-scale import of illicit liquor from some neighbouring states, especially Haryana, was not only making a significant dent into the department’s revenue but also causing hooch tragedies leading to death or disabilities to people in the state.