Bars to face the music for hosting 'illegal' tipplers

Excise dept warns stringent action against permit rooms if their patrons are found drinking without permits; bar owners, revellers question 'age-old' law

Days after the Mumbai police's traffic department cracked the whip on bar owners in the city, warning them of stringent action if their patrons drink and drive, it is now the state excise department who wants them to make sure that tipplers are issued one-day drinking permits before they are served drinks.

Do you have the licence to drink? Excise officials said they would be
conducting surprise checks on bars and permit rooms across the city to
nab revellers drinking alcohol without permits

In order to ensure that there are enough one-day permits handy, the department is surveying bars/wine shops, and providing them with adequate permits.

According to the excise officials, while party organisers are found making arrangements for drivers, cars, cabs and other means of transport for drunken revellers, they often ignore to ask them for drinking permits. But with New Year celebrations less than a week away, the department is issuing adequate copies of drinking permits to each permit room in the city. According to the officials, this move will cut down on illegal and underage drinkers.

Official word
"We are going to conduct surprise checks across bars and party halls. And if we find anybody drinking without a permit, the tippler will have to face the consequences. We are ensuring that all the permit rooms across the city have adequate drinking permits on them. People often tend to ignore these smaller facts," said N M Mudiraj, excise superintendent (suburbs).

He added, "Although a drinking permit is available for just Rs 5, people tend to ignore these rules. Hence, we have asked all the party organisers to make sure that only people of legal age are served drink and that too if they have the drinking permit."

'Abolish hoary law'
A bar owner from Andheri, requesting anonymity, grumbled that this was government's latest move for harassing bar owners and patrons. "Only recently, the traffic department issued a directive asking all bars across the city to ensure their patrons don't drive after drinking. Failure to do so would lead to revocation of the restaurant's licence. And now the excise department wants us to check if the tipplers have drinking permits or not. This is ridiculous; it is an age-old law and should be abolished. As we serve drinks to people who are of the legal age and just because they do not have permits, initiating action against them is impractical. Running business for us has become a Herculean task."

Revellers say
"Maharashtra is the only state in the country where one needs a permit to drink alcohol. People hardly know that they have to acquire a permit for drinking. Why can't the government abolish this baseless law that exists only on paper and is rarely enforced? It's only when the New Year is around the corner, permits gain importance. This is just one of their plans to extort money from us. It is better that we party at home rather than court trouble," said Manish Chawla, a Santacruz resident.

Did you know?

As per the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949, in Maharashtra, a liquor permit is necessary for purchase, possession, transport, and consumption of liquor. Any person above the age of 25 years is eligible for obtaining a permit. The police can arrest anyone for consuming or buying alcohol without the permit. Offenders can either be jailed for up to five years or fined for Rs 50,000.

One-day permit (available at all bars, pubs, wine shops, hotels):
Rs 5 for Indian-manufactured foreign liquor, and,
Rs 2 for country liquor
One-year permit: Rs 100
Lifetime permit: Rs 1,000

Permit requirements
An identity proof along with two photographs must be submitted for obtaining a year's or a lifetime permit. Permits can be obtained immediately on submission of the application.

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