Mumbai: Establishments say they check ID proof if someone looks underage

Officials at pubs, restaurants and other establishments serving alcohol insist that they do check a person’s age if she or he looks underage. Many say they insist that young guests carry an identity card, while at least one said that they don’t usually check IDs, but if they doubt the age, they ask for ID proof.

Also read: Mumbai Police to crack down on bars that serve booze to minors

During a survey last week, the police found 91 minors drinking at bars across the city in just one day. The cops will now crack down on bars that do not turn away under-18 drinkers. Representation Pic/Thinkstock
During a survey last week, the police found 91 minors drinking at bars across the city in just one day. The cops will now crack down on bars that do not turn away under-18 drinkers. Representation Pic/Thinkstock

Meldan D’Cunha of The Local, said, “We have bouncers who religiously check the ID card every day. Even when there is a big group and one person does not have an ID card, we send them back. The bouncers sometimes put the guest on the phone line, and I explain to them that our rules, and even our FB page clearly says to carry an ID.

It is the same at the Taj Group of Hotels. A spokesperson for them said, “We do not have a nightclub but for our bar, we check ID cards and permits, without which alcohol is not served under any circumstances.”

An official at Gokul, Colaba, said, “We don’t allow underage drinkers. Though we don’t check everyone’s ID, if we doubt they are underage from the way they look, we ask for ID proof.”

While most restaurants and hotels said they do check IDs, an official from a prominent five-star hotel in Lower Parel said they have two levels of checking. One is at the elevator and one is at the nightclub. So there is no question of allowing underage drinkers.

However, the spokesperson of a prominent hotel feels that some five-stars are intentionally not checked by the police.

The spokesperson said, “Five-star hotels are a source of big revenue for the cops, thus they don’t usually check there. When someone holds a birthday party, it is the responsibility of the person who has booked the place to ensure that everyone is above 21. We have a board outside too, that says carry your I-card. The bigger clubs need to fill space, so they allow younger kids to come in too.”

The owner of a chain of pubs in the suburbs partly agrees and feels underage guests are the target of many establishments.

The owner said, “We do not allow anybody under 25 years (21 is the age for beer and wine, 25 for spirits). However, the current trend is that approximately 35 to 40 per cent of the crowd at a pub on a given night is under 21. They are also the target for many pubs and bars. We perform security checks and ask for original ID proof from every individual in a large group. The Social Service Branch of Maharashtra Police often does security checks at pubs. In terms of revenue from underage drinkers, the APC (Average Price per Customer) is lower, since their spending capacity is lower.”

Besides restaurants, pubs etc, youngsters frequent many events. However, an event organiser, on condition of anonymity, said, “As gig organisers, we don’t execute security checks, the pubs do.”

No one checks
Many hotels, establishments etc insist they check age proof but underage drinkers themselves say otherwise.

A 20-year-old pointed out that youngsters can also choose to drink at home. He said, “I like places closer to my home. None of these places check IDs. Also a lot of places judge your age on the basis of how you look. I don’t look 21, so I usually get away. Also, buying alcohol and drinking at home is safer.”

Another underage drinker said, “I have never been asked for an ID or stopped. Only family restaurants ask for an ID, particularly when you are with friends. Clubs near my place in Powai have never asked me for my ID and I have never been sent back.”
(Inputs by Krutika Behrawala, Suprita Mitter)

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