Gujarat Governor gives assent to Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2009
Manufacturing, stocking or even transporting “lathha,” a country-made spurious liquor, can now fetch death penalty in Gujarat if such brew caused death.
“The Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2009,” providing for death penalty for playing a role in the manufacture of the killer brew has been finally given assent by Governor Kamala Beniwal after initial objections.
The Bill was passed by the Assembly soon after a major hooch tragedy in July, 2009, in which 157 people lost their lives in Ahmedabad, while many others lost their vision or suffered other infirmities. The existing prohibition Act was amended to provide for stringent punishments, including death penalty for manufacturing, stocking, transporting and distributing spurious liquor if it caused death. The existing Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949, provided for only one-year imprisonment to the manufacturer and distributor of the spurious liquor.
The Governor initially returned the Bill with a suggestion to reconsider the death penalty. But neither the government nor the Opposition agreed to drop the provision and re-sent the Bill to the Raj Bhavan.
Under the new law, persons convicted of manufacturing or distributing spurious liquor could be sent to jail for seven to 10 years, and in case of death, the convicts could be awarded death penalty or life imprisonment.
The amended Act, apart from targeting the brewers, also provides for stern action against policemen, if found guilty of ineffective investigation into hooch tragedies or letting off the guilty. Such policemen would be fined Rs. 3,000 or sentenced to a year in jail for lax investigation in hooch cases. The act bars bail or bond for the accused and they would be forced to stay behind bars until the closure of the case, unlike in the past when one could get out of jail against a bail or bond.
The biggest ever hooch tragedy struck Gujarat in 1989 when 257 people were killed in Vadodara. Over 354 lost their lives in 25 smaller tragedies in different parts of the State between 1971 and 1997. In 2009, 157 people were killed in Ahmedabad, forcing the State administration to frame stringent measures to try and stop such man-made tragedies.