In a press conference after the state government’s Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Principal Secretary (Excise) Sanjay Bhoosreddy said that ‘stringent laws’ would now be in place to punishing all individuals involved in liquor adulteration.
“Under the new law, licence[s] will be cancelled in the first instance and a case will be registered under sections 272, 273 and 304 of the Indian Penal Code against the [accused]. The Excise department will [also] register cases under the NSA and Gangster Act,” he said.
Under the Indian Penal Code, section 272 covers the adulteration of food and drink intended for retail, and 273 covers the sale of ‘noxious’ food and drink unfit for consumption.
Section 304 covers punishment for those ‘culpable to homicide not amounting to murder’ and could carry a life imprisonment term, or up to 10 years in jail and a penalty, depending on the severity of the offence.
This is a great deal more stringent than the previous penalties for liquor adulteration, which was a fine of INR40,000 (US$580) for the first offence, INR50,000 (US$725) for the second offence and license cancellation for the third offence.
Higher penalties were also announced for retailers charging above the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) set by the government.
“We have fines for first time offences from INR10,000 (US$145) to INR75,000 (US$1,087), for second time offences from INR20,000 (US$290) to INR150,000 (US$2,175) and for third time offences from INR30,000 (US$435) to licence cancellation,” Bhoosreddey said.
High death tolls from adulterated liquor incidences
The state government’s accelerated action is likely due to the increasing number of mortalities that Uttar Pradesh has seen over the past year related to adulterated liquor.
In the most recent occurrence, 18 deaths and over 50 hospital admissions resulting from the consumption of such alcohol were reported from the Barabanki district, according to Hindustan Times.
Earlier this year in February, the Epoch Times reported over 100 adulterated liquor-related deaths were reported in Uttar Pradesh and its neighbouring state of Uttarkhand, in addition to some 150 more in the northeastern state of Assam.
“There has been incident of illicit liquor trade in which precious lives have been lost. What happened in Barabanki is unfortunate and there should not be a recurrence of such incident,” said Adityanath during the meeting.
“[Investigating] officials should try to find out the cause of this incident - whether it was done because of love of lucre, or there was any conspiracy to defame the government and create chaos.”
According to United News of India, ‘influential people’ were purportedly behind this adulterated liquor racket, to which Adityanath directed investigators to work with both local administration and police in the investigation,
“If necessary, their property should be seized and they should be sent to jail under the NSA.”