Bitter pill for liquor chocolate lovers
The Excise Department may stop issuing permits for the manufacture and sale of alcohol-based chocolates, rendering the confections illegal in the state
If your sweet tooth has a fondness for those delectable soft-centre chocolates that enclose smooth-as-honey alcohol delights in them, it may be time to start practising some abstinence. Not so you can preserve your waistline, but because being caught with one of the sinful delights may get you arrested.
The state's Excise Department is mulling the idea of erasing the clause from the Special Permits and Licenses Rules 1952, which permits the granting of licences for the manufacture, sale and purchase of liquor chocolates. This means that eating, buying, making and selling alcohol-based chocolates without possessing a liquor permit will be considered a cognisable and bailable offence.
Licence to binge: On December 1, MiD DAY had reported that excise
authorities wanted all chocolatiers, shopkeepers and consumers of
alcohol-based chocolates to produce liquor licences or permits before
buying or selling them
On December 1, MiD DAY had reported that the excise authorities wanted all chocolatiers, shopkeepers and consumers of alcohol-based chocolates to produce liquor licences or permits before buying or selling them.
The department began re-thinking the feasibility of the clause last month, when the Vashi branch of the department apprehended a 25-year-old man from sector 15 of Vashi, for allegedly having alcohol-based chocolates in his possession and selling them to under-age college students. The man was booked under Section 65 (E) of the Bombay Prohibition Act and produced before the Thane court, to be released later on a bail of Rs 4,000.
"This case has opened the eyes of the department. We have not sold a single permit, and yet, these chocolates have flooded the market and are widely consumed by the masses, including children and college youths. The department is now thinking of ways to stop these practices. We are not earning any revenue from the sale and manufacture of liquor chocolates, and instead the law is being bent. This is why we are toying with the idea of erasing the clause from the SPLR, 1952," said a senior official of the excise department, on condition of anonymity.
Speaking to MiD DAY, A B Ghatol, joint commissioner of the department, said, "It is too early to say anything with certainty. We have collected a few liquor chocolate samples and have sent them for laboratory tests. We are waiting for the test reports to come in. The content of the liquor will be checked. We are still mulling over our decision."
Chocolate makers across the city are up in arms against the plan. "This is absurd. The government should think of a solution other than erasing the clause altogether. There must be better options. Limits need to be defined. Also, what about coffee shops and other eateries that sell these chocolates? Will they also have to acquire an alcohol permit simply to sell them? What about imported chocolates, which are sold in the shops? Do those shopkeepers also have to apply for liquor permits?" asked Andheri-based chocolate maker Alisha Fernandez.
Did you know?
Drinking alcohol without a permit is a cognisable and bailable offence. There are various penalties depending on different factors, like the quantity of liquor involved. The offence can attract a maximum fine of Rs 50,000, and imprisonment up to five years. The magnitude of the penalty puts drinking in the same category of crime as assault or rioting.