You could soon buy 12 alcohol bottles a week

Apr 24, 2012, 07:34 IST | Urvashi Seth

Excise department is contemplating allowing drinkers to purchase a dozen alcohol bottles a week, discarding the 2009 ruling that permitted only 2 bottles per week

The two-bottle per week rule hadn’t gone down too well with tipplers and wine shop owners for two years. But with the state excise ministry considering appeasing them by allowing 12 bottles of liquor per week, they have every reason to cheer. The state excise ministry is now mulling plans to reinstate the old ruling that allowed people to but 12 bottles a week. In 2009, the ministry had abruptly issued a notification to all wine shop owners stating that nobody be permitted to buy more than two bottles of alcohol per week. The old rule that allowed any permit holder to purchase 12 bottles (12 units) of liquor was then straight away brought down to two bottles (2 units).

“The ministry has formed a special committee who were to decide over the units of consumption that a licence holder should be permitted. The committee was in favour of 12 units, which was the earlier permissible limit. Allowing only two units in a state like Maharashtra is practically impossible and hence even the department realised that the two units stipulation was less. However, the department has not yet come to a conclusion,” said a senior excise official, on condition of anonymity.

Anna effect!
MiD DAY had earlier reported (‘Booze police crack a joke,’ December 11, 2009) on the excise department’s announcement of the two-bottle per week notification. Sources from the excise department added that the 2009 notification had come about as a result of activist Anna Hazare’s criticism of the Maharashtra government’s decision to provide beer bar licences at cheap rates.

“Hazare is completely against liquor and hence due to his immense pressure on the government, the state succumbed following orders from above, and had to make selling of liquor laws more tough for tipplers in Maharashtra. Hazare feared that this would lead to a rise in alcoholism and disturb family life, after which the department decided to come up with the weird law. Even now the ministry is going slow fearing the Hazare affect on the department,” said the official.

A wine shop owner from Powai said, “The two-bottle ruling was baseless and applying the law was impractical. The rule was archaic, which needed to be changed. Instead of increasing the possession limit the department decreases the limit. It is weird, as one cannot monitor how much liquor a person possesses. Apart from this the drinking permit rule should also be abolished as it is nothing but a source of harassment and also an age old rule.” When contacted Dr Sanjay Mukherjee, excise commissioner refused to comment on the issue.

Unit measure
1 unit = 750 ml of hard liquor/ 1500 ml of wine / 2600 ml of beer

Number of units (bottles) of alcohol that could be bought per week before the notification came into place in 2009.

The notification
What does the notification say: According to the rule of 70-D of the Bombay Foreign Liquor Rules 1953 in sub rule (6), for the words “Twelve "Units” the words 'two units per week' shall be substituted.

Did you know?
The Government of Kerala reduced the maximum quantity of liquor that can be possessed by a person who is not a licenced manufacturer or vendor of liquor to 15 litres from 27.1 litres. The total number of beer bottles one can buy at a time has been reduced to 6 from the previous 12. The quantity of IMFL one can possess has been reduced to 3 litres from 4.5 litre. The quantity of toddy has also been reduced to 1.5 litre from 2.5 litre. The order came into effect on April 1, 2012. In Delhi a consumer is allowed to keep 18 litres of IMFL/Beer (in any proportion) at his residence at a time for bonafide consumption by him and family members/guests. 

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