HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT
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Submitted to: MR. BIMAL N. PATEL (DIRECTOR, GNLU)

Submitted by: 06B151 06B144 06B131 06B096 06A034 06B121 05B091 November-2009

GUJARAT NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT

Acknowledgement
Writing of every project work requires considerable amount of determination and a lot of hard working. We have put in all the possible efforts in order to make this project resourceful. This kind of project writing requires blessings of God, elders and friends. So we would first like to thank our respected director Mr. Bimal N. Patel who gave us this extremely important topic as a project. We thank the all the members of the Hooch Tragedy Commission which is chaired by Justice (Retd.) Kamal Mehta and comprises of Mr. G.C. Raiger IPS (Retd.), Dr. Kirit Methawala and Dr. M.S. Dahiya for their constant support and assistance throughout this project. Last but not the least we also thank the administrative staff of GNLU for their rendering their assistance whenever required.

In spite of all efforts some errors might have crept in. We shall be grateful to the readers if the same are brought to our notice. Suggestions for further improvement of the project will be gratefully acknowledged. Thank you.

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT

Research Methodology
1) OBJECTIVES The Objective of this project is to inquire into the hooch tragedy in order to ensure better enforcement of prohibition since due to the tragedy, several people lost their lives and many others had to undergo medical treatment in different hospitals in Ahmedabad due to the consumption of illegally manufactured fluid suspected to be illicit liquor between 5th July 2009 to 3rd August 2009. 2) RESEARCH TOOLS The Research Of this Project was carried out with the help of the Internet and in the Library of the India Law Institute. However, other than secondary sources, the empirical has also adopted. In entire project uniform, a footnoting style has been adopted in conformity with the Harvard Blue Book Footnoting Style. 3) RESEARCH QUESTIONS a) What are the amendments proposed in the Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2009 in order to prevent such incidents from occurring again? b) What are the adequacy of measures for effective implementation of prohibition laws by the police and its recommendations for its future action plans? 4) METHODOLOGY The research methodology used to undertake this research is both doctrinal and empirical.

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT

List of Cases
1) Mona Sevan v. State of Kerala, 1984 KLT 1060 2) State of Bombay v. F.N. Balsara, AIR 1951 SC 318 3) Russel v.Queen,1882 7 A.C. 829 4) P.N. Kaushal v. Union of India,(1978) 3 SCC 588 5) Coovergee B. Barucha v. Excise Commissioner, AIR 1954 SC 220 6) Harshankar v. Dy. Excise and Taxation Commissioner,(1975) 1 SCC 737 7) Nashirwar v. State of M.P, AIR 1975 SC 360

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT

Table of Contents

S.No
1.

Particulars

Page No.
6

Introduction to the Hooch Tragedy

2. 3.

Ill effects of alcohol

8

Is the alcohol prohibition policy in Gujarat successful?
4.

10

Changes proposed by the Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2009
5.

15

Power of the state government to prohibit trade in liquor
6

16

The adequacy of measures for effective implementation of prohibition laws by the police and various recommendations
7

`19

Conclusion

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I.INTRODUCTION TO THE HOOCH TRAGEDY

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT

(1) Backdrop Gujarat is India’s only state where sale and consumption of liquor is banned in deference to Mahatma Gandhi, a Gujarati who was a teetotaller and saw alcohol as a social evil.
1

At least four major hooch tragedies had taken place in the state in the last three decades or so, and as many inquiry commissions were set up by the successive governments to find out reasons and make recommendations so that the prohibition policy could be implemented effectively to prevent such incidents. The first tragedy occurred in the Sarangpur Daulatkhana locality of Ahmedabad in 1977, in which as many as 101 people lost their lives and another 215 were affected. This followed another major tragedy in Vadodara in 1989, which claimed 132 lives and affected 200 others. In Sutrapada in Junagadh district in 1990, at least 17 people died and 115 others were hospitalised, while in the recent incident in Ahmedabad, more than a dozen people have been killed. 2 Following the 1989 hooch tragedy in Vadodara, an inquiry commission headed by Justice (retired) A Dave of Gujarat High Court was set up. In his report, Justice Dave had recommended the then Congress-ruled government to either abolish the prohibition policy or make suitable changes in it. The report said:3 “It will be meaningless to believe that people of next generation will not fall victim to this menace due to the implementation of the prohibition policy (in the state). For the last 40 years, people have not only continued to consume liquor, but their number has also increased. Anyway, if the prohibition policy is scrapped, it will not only help reduce the (prohibition-related) cases of corruption, but also the funds the government spends on its implementation, could be utilised on the welfare of the poor labour class. Hence, it is requested that the government review the prohibition policy (in toto)”. The government had, however, rejected this recommendation.
1

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5e73a3ba-6f44-11de-9109-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1 (last visited on 2nd November 2009) 2 file:///D:/Hooch/Prohibition%20ineffective%20in%20preventing%20illicit%20liquor%20menace%20%20Express%20India.htm (last visited on 10th November 2009) 3 Ibid

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT Justice Dave had also suggested in his report that a 25 km-long “dry belt” be created between the two neighbouring states bordering Gujarat so as to control the illegal flow of liquor into Gujarat. He had also come down heavily on the police, which he said indulged in rampant corruption.4 He had suggested that a special state-level cell be set up at the Sachivalaya to monitor the activity of prohibition officers. The previous inquiry commission set up by the state in the wake of the 1977 hooch tragedy in Ahmedabad, which was headed by Chief Justice (retired) N M Miyabhoy, had also observed that the prohibition policy in Gujarat was a failure, and that sweeping changes be made in it for its effective implementation. One of the main reasons, Miyabhoy attributed to the failed prohibition policy, was rampant corruption in the police force. He had recommended that a special cell be set up under the direct supervision of the Director General of Police (DGP) to initiate action against corrupt prohibition officials. He had also recommended that the district prohibition committees headed by the collector be appointed and loopholes, if any, in the prohibition Act be removed for strict implementation of the policy. The Writer Committee constituted in 1981 had exposed the nexus between the police and bootleggers in the state, and had recommended the then government to form separate special teams of officers to carry out raids on liquor dens on a regular basis. These officers should not be transferred to any other police branches, he had suggested. (2) Most recent incident On 7 July 2009, ten people died in Behrampura after drinking spurious liquor. The liquor was brewed in the house of Arvind Solanki, who also died after consuming the liquor. The death toll rose to 43 the next day and crossed 120 by July 12. 276 people were admitted in various hospitals with nearly 100 of them in intensive care units. More than 1000 litres of hooch containing methanol was brought to Ahmedabad from Mohammadabad. The major affected areas were Kagdapith, Odhav and Amraiwadi localities of Ahmedabad. 5
4 5

Ibid www.ibnlive.com (last visited on 2nd November 2009)

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II. ILL EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL Alcohol is a toxic drug. In relation to this, Bengelsdorf6 has pointed out that its abuse has killed more people, sent more victims to hospital, generated more police arrests, broken up more marriages and homes and cost the industry more money then has the abuse of heroin, amphetamines, barbiturates and marijuana combined. The technical name of the drug in alcoholic beverages is ethanol, or ethyl alcohol. Ethanol is the common alcohol found in intoxicating drinks and is often called “alcohol”. The severity of the mental disturbance is roughly proportional to the alcoholic concentration in the body. This may be determined by a chemical analysis of the blood and urine. Depending on the degree of intoxication, the amount of alcohol in the blood usually varies from 0.01 to 0.50 per cent. The concentration of the alcohol in the urine for comparable stages tends to run slightly higher. 7 On the other hand, Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirits, is a chemical with formula CH3OH (often abbreviated MeOH). It is toxic and drinking 10 ml will cause blindness, and as little as 100 ml will cause death. It is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odor that is very similar to but slightly sweeter than ethanol (drinking alcohol). At room temperature it is a polar liquid and is used as an antifreeze, solvent, fuel, and as a denaturant for ethanol. Because of its toxic properties, methanol is frequently used as a denaturant additive for ethanol manufactured for industrial uses.8 Alcohol is a depressant which attacks and numbs the higher brain centre, impairing judgement and other rational processes and lowering self-control. Alcohol has been called a ‘catalyst’ for violence. The general effects vary with the concentration of alcohol in the blood. When the amount of alcohol in the blood approaches 0.1 percent, the individual is considered to be intoxicant. Muscular coordination, speech and vision are
6

Bengelsdorf, I.S., “Alcohol, Morphine Addictions Believed Chemically Similar”, Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1970, 11, 7. 7 Chandra S.C., “Alcohol, Crime and Responsibility”, Criminal Law Journal, 2000, pgs. 164-168 at p. 165 8 Supra note 3

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT impaired, and thought processes are confused.9 When the amount of alcohol in the blood reaches 0.5 percent, the subject is no longer capable of self management as the entire neutral balance is upset. 10 The best founded and most applicable index of alcohol intoxication is the amount of alcohol in the blood. As soon as alcohol is absorbed from the digestive tract, it is distributed throughout the blood, the brain, and tissues of the body, the urine and in a smaller proportion in the breadth. It is by means of this index that the effects of the various alcoholic beverages may be scientifically assessed.11 Alcohol is a drug of addiction and its excessive and continued consumption is likely to cause some serious pathological symptoms. The science can play a significant role in the prevention and control of the evils of alcoholism. The higher the percentage of alcohol in a beverage that is widely consumed, the more it contributes to the evils of alcoholism and vice-versa. The licensing system of the country can control the evils of alcoholism by exercising much stricter control over the strong beverages that produce adverse psychic effect. Hence, the problem of alcoholism is just one more area in which medical science experts, social scientists and lawyers need to join forces to analyse the problem and seek a solution as best suited to the needs of individual health and public order.

III. IS THE ALCOHOL PROHIBITION POLICY IN GUJARAT SUCCESSFUL The moot question is has prohibition really curbed the smuggling of Alcoholic beverages
9

Ibid Ibid 11 Henderson Yandell, “Science, Law and Alcohol”, Harpers’s Magazine, June, 1933, Vol. 167 at p. 46
10

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT entering the State? The answer is well known. In fact, it is one of the most thriving illegal businesses prevailing in the State. And what is surprising is that this illicit liquor trade has the backing from not only the public guardians but also from people’s representatives from the State. Recently, four policemen attached with the Enforcement Wing of the State’s prohibition department were sent to three years jail for accepting bribes from an alleged woman bootlegger in Saurashtra. In 2004, the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), found itself in an embarrassing spot when a minister’s family was found involved in an alcohol scandal where alcohol worth Rs.1.5 million was seized from the minister’s family residence in Panchmahal district. However, representation from alcohol companies, hoteliers and Tourism Corporation demanding relaxation on alcohol ban does not seem to hold any ground on the land of the Mahatma. Liquor baron Vijay Mallya last year criticized the state Chief Minister Narendra Modi for not changing the age-old law on prohibition and believed that the State was losing a huge chunk of money almost to the tune of Rs.2,500 crore per year as revenue.12 India’s former minister Arun Shourie, on his visit to Gujarat had called the state government’s stance on the prohibition of liquor as hypocrisy and stated that it was in the best interest of the state to remove the liquor ban to help the tourism industry flourish. He said that the Government is aware that the state is losing revenue on account of prohibition, but argued that the loss of revenue is acceptable to the state simply because it does not want to violate the principles laid down by Mahatma Gandhi.

Seizure of Illicit liquor13 Year
12 13

Country liquor (in litres)

Number of I.M.F.L bottles

www.timesofindia.com (last visited on 5th November 2009) Source: Prohibition and Excise Department, Government of Gujarat)

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 1146965 1327114 585474.7 628903.6 839338.3 to 528741 1410826 1680780 1207161 1332488 1444424 702047

(updated

up

30.6.2006)

According to state government officials dealing with the enforcement of this prohibition, it is because of prohibition that the State enjoys social and industrial peace as one cannot earn revenue at the cost of social and industrial peace. Amidst the official ban, the fact remains that there is an unofficial flow of liquor in the State involving people across the spectrum. What is prohibited is the official selling and drinking of liquor in open. But during marriages, election and festive seasons, one cannot deny the fact that demand and supply of liquor elevates. The prohibition department too steps up vigil to check bootlegging activities that includes checking the distillation and supply of country liquor.

Cost of liquor seized14 Year 2001 2002
14

Cost of country liquor Cost of I.M.F.L seized (in seized (in Rs.) 22945467 26557305 Rs.) 147331315 195619382

Ibid

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT 2003 2004 2005 2006 11711327 12557572 16787315 to 10625770 139572592 108491372 144437435 94223419

(updated

up

30.6.2006)

Number of cases registered15 Year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 No of cases registered 92883 105721 74825 89271 95989 to 52402

(updated

up

30.6.2006) Though there is a ban on production of “potable liquor” in the State, there are 18 distilleries producing only industrial alcohol. There are at present 18 distilleries in the State of Gujarat. These distilleries produce industrial alcohol. On account of prohibition, the distillation and sale etc. thereof is done under supervision. In addition to excise recovery from industries involved in using alcohol / manufacturing alcohol, there is income from licence fees, excise under the M&TP Act, and recovery of amount for compounding certain kinds of offences under the Bombay Prohibition Act. Distilleries present in the state of Gujarat16 Sr. No 1. Name and address of

distillery Shri Chalthan Vibhag Khand Udyog Sahakari Mandali Ltd., Dist. Surat. Shri Sayan Vibhag Sahakari

2.
15 16

Ibid Ibid

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT Khand Udyog Sahakari 3. Mandali Ltd., Dist. Surat. Shri Kamrej Vibhag Khand Udyog Sahakari Mandali 4. Ltd., Dist. Surat. Shri Mahuva Pradesh Khand Udyog Sahakari 5. 6. 7. Mandali Ltd., Dist. Surat. M/s. Shakti Distillery Pvt. Ltd., Sachin, Surat. M/s. Avani Easters & Chemicals, Dist. Vadodara. M/s. Baroda Chemicals Ind. Ltd., Dabhoi, Dist. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. Vadodara. M/s. Pashchim Petrochem Ltd., Dist. Vadodara. M/s. Doshi Chemicals Pvt. Ltd., Dist. Bharuch. M/s. Kanoriya Chemicals & Ind.Ltd., Dist. Bharuch. M/s. Ashok Organic Ind. Ltd., Dist. Bharuch. M/s. United Phosphorous Ltd.Dist. Bharuch. M/s. Yeast Alco Enzymes Ltd., Palitana, Dist. 14. Bhavnagar. M/s. Jalaram Alcochem (Surat) Pvt. Ltd., Dist. 15. 16. Bharuch. Shri Sahakari Khand Udyog Mandali Ltd., Dist. Navsari. Shri Madhi Vibhag Khand Udyog Sahakari Mandali

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT Ltd., Dist. Surat. M/s. Luna Chemical Industries Pvt. Ltd., District 18. Surat. M/s. Arti Petroleums, Ahmedabad.

17.

IV. CHANGES PROPOSED BY THE BOMBAY (GUJARAT AMENDMENT) BILL, 2009 On 28th July, 2009 the Gujarat State Assembly on Tuesday passed a Bill proposing stringent punishment up to death penalty to deal with illicit liquor trade in the follow up of the recent hooch tragedy that claimed over 130 lives in the State. A new section 65A has been inserted which provides for punishment for manufacturing spurious liquor.17 Section 65A (2) seek penal action upto 'death penalty' for those convicted in spurious liquor cases. It also calls for a punishment upto life imprisonment for bootleggers. The other proposals namely Section 65A(1) seeks punishment of upto 10 years for the makers of illicit liquor, persons responsible for its transportation, those who stock such liquor and those involved in its sale. In no case, the punishment would be less than seven years. Also, the proposed amendment in the law include the provision that police officers and other officials concerned are liable for punishment for up to one year for negligence in discharging their duties.

17

Official Gazette: The Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2009

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT Another new section 94A has been proposed to be inserted which provides for punishment for failure in duty by prohibition officials or police officers. Under this section, the officials are liable for punishment of upto one year for negligence in duty. Moreover, vehicles transporting liquor would be confiscated by the authorities. It is also provides that conveying vehicles used in transport of the liquor shall not be released on bond or surety, in cases of where the quantity of the seized liquor exceeds the quantity as may be prescribed by rules, till the final order of the court.18

V. POWER OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT TO PROHIBIT TRADE IN LIQUOR In a discussion on Fundamental Right to trade in liquor, the power of the state government in imposing prohibition deserves consideration. Apart from the legislative competence to enact a prohibition law, the Directive Principles of State Policy also throw light on the topic. The power of the state government to impose prohibition can be traced to entry 8 of List II of the VIIth schedule of the Constitution. 19 The Kerala High Court in Mona Sevan v. State of Kerala20 held that the Kerala Akbari Act and Rules made thereunder is in truth and substance within the legislative competence of the state fulfilling under entry 8 of List II of the VIIth Schedule of the Constitution. Article 47 of the Constitution speaks about the obligation to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health. When this Article was debated in the Constituent Assembly reference was made to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and the religious instruction
18

file:///D:/Hooch/gujarat-assembly-passes-bill-for-stringent-punishment-in-illicit-liquortrade_100224334.html (last visited on 5th November 2009) 19 Entry 8 of List II of the VIIth Schedule of the Constitution deals with intoxicating liquors, that is to say the production, manufacture, transport, purchase and sale of intoxicating liquors. 20 1984 KLT 1060 at p. 1067

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT against drinking in every community. A feeble opinion was also expressed that it was premature and that prohibition was against the religious practice of the tribal peoples. However, Dr. Ambedkar interfered and said that whether to act on the principle and when to do so and in what stages to do so questions are left to the state and to public opinion.
21

Prohibition found a place in the Constitution because of the puritanical

thinking which predominated the Constituent Assembly, drawing inspirations from the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. In State of Bombay v. F.N. Balsara22 the constitutional validity of Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 was challenged on the ground that it is violative of certain Fundamental Rights. Here the Supreme Court observed that though Article 47has no direct bearing on the Act which was passed in 1949, a reference to it supports to some extend the inference that the idea of prohibition is connected with public health, and to enforce prohibition effectively the wider definition of the word liquor will have to be adopted so as to include all alcoholic liquids which may be used as a substitute for intoxicating drinks, to the detriment of health. An attempt was also made to validate the law based on the entry relating to public order. Justice Paul Ali remarked: 'At first sight it may appear to be far fetched, to bring the subject of intoxicating liquor under 'public order'. He went on to observe that there was a tendency in Europe and America to regard alcoholism as a menace to public order. He relied on the famous decision of the Privy Council in Russel v.Queen.23In this case, a Canadian temperance law was challenged, but was found valid as it was a law relating to ‘peace, order and good government' of Canada. A passage in the Encyclopedia Britannica was also referred in order to justify the temperance law under the head 'public order’. This passage was quoted to lend support to the contention of the state government that the Prohibition Act fell within the subject of public order but the matter was not pursued further as the particular entry had a remote bearing on the object and scope of the Act.

21 22

Chacko Romy, “Freedom of Trade in Liquor- A Fundamental Right?”, KLT 1991(2), pg.47-56 at p. 51 AIR 1951 SC 318 23 1882 7 A.C. 829

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT Art. 37 of the Constitution states that Part IV of the Constitution shall not be enforceable by any court.24 It only means the government cannot be compelled to achieve every objective set out in the preamble and to implement every directive principle. This does not mean that the preamble and directive principles are pious platitudes which can be ignored while making state policy either by legislation or by administrative action. Commenting on Article 47, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer has said 25 "We, the people of India” have enacted Art.47 and ''we, the Justices of India" cannot lure it back to cancel half a life" or ''wash out a word of it", especially when progressive implementation of the policy of prohibition is, by Arts..38 and 47 made fundamental to country's governance. The Constitution is the property of the people and the courts know how to apply the Constitution, not to assess it. In the process of interpretation, Part IV of the Constitution must enter the soul of Part III and the laws". Even if it is admitted that there is a fundamental right to trade in liquor, prohibition is only a reasonable restriction which can be justified under Article 19(6) in the interests of the general public. Moreover, the state has a constitutional obligation under Article 47 to bring about prohibition of the consumption of liquor. In State of Bombay v. F.N. Balsar26 the Supreme Court held that absolute prohibition of manufacture or sale of liquor is permissible and the only exception can be for medical preparation. Hence, there is no legal impediment in enacting a prohibition law. In Coovergee B. Barucha v. Excise Commissioner27, the Apex Court laid down three propositions. First, there is no inherent right of the citizens to carry on trade in intoxicating liquor. Second, the auction sale of the liquor shop is a method by which carrying on particular trade in liquor is regulated and one of the purposes if regulation is to raise revenue. Third, there can be a monopoly only when a trade which could be
24

Article 37 states “The provisions contained in this part shall not be enforceable by any court, but he principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws.” 25 P.N. Kaushal v. Union of India (1978) 3 SCC 588 at p. 573 26 Supra note 11 27 AIR 1954 SC 220

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT carried on by all persons is entrusted to one or more persons to the exclusion of the general public. The Supreme Court concluded in Harshankar v. Dy. Excise and Taxation Commissioner28 that there is no fundamental right to do trade or business in intoxicants. Justice Chandrachud held that the state under its regulatory powers has the right ti prohibit absolutely every form of activity in relation to intoxicants, its manufacture, storage, export, import, sale and possession. In Nashirwar v. State of M.P29 Chief Justice Ray stated three principal reasons for holding the opinion that there was no fundamental right to carry on trade in liquor. First, the police power of the state to enforce public morality to prohibit trade in noxious or dangerous goods. Secondly, the power of the state to enforce an absolute prohibition of manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquor. Thirdly, the history of excise law has shown that the state had the exclusive right or privilege of manufacture or sale of goods. Referring to Article 2130, Justice Oza said that it casts a duty on the state to protect the life of every citizen and if the same is compared with the scheme of privilege it would mean that the state has a privilege to endanger human life and such a privilege runs contrary to Article 21. VI. THE ADEQUACY OF MEASURE FOR EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF PROHIBITION LAWS BY THE POLICE AND VARIOUS RECOMMENDATIONS (1) Views of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Odhav area, Ahmedabad: Mr. A.K.Chaudharj Around 3% of the women population of Gujarat consumes alcohol as per the records and survey conducted in the state. Further it is found that 50% women are involved in the sale
28 29

(1975) 1 SCC 737 AIR 1975 SC 360 30 Article 21 states: “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT of alcohol in the state as, if caught by the authorities there cannot be tortured much. Moreover we need at least 6000 to 7000 police men but instead we just have a work force of only 3000 police men which is clearly the half of the requirement and so it fails to achieve its expectations. There are approx 60 lakh people in the state and if this figure is divided by 3000, we come to a shocking ratio of 1:2000 which means only one police official for 2000 people. NGO's can play an important role to curb this nuisance by taking a few steps on the grass root level. Such organizations can help bring awareness among the people about its pro's and con's which can help them understand the consequences of their act. Other than this the real need of the hour is more stringent laws and its proper implementation. Unless and until we don’t improve on it, there is no way out. The focus needs to be on the licensing system of methanol. The theft of methanol must be controlled and is possible only if licensing system is changed. There must be a separate penal provision for theft of methanol and at least 5 years imprisonment should be provided for. Industries must be given flexible license renewal methods, who use methanol. Accountability even for negligence of methanol being stolen should also be there. Prohibition law or no prohibition law, the manufacture of local made liquor will take place and actually this country made liquor is not injurious to health. Only when one adds methanol and like substances for extra punch, does it become poisonous. The labourers and the poor people shall always prefer the cheapest and most easily available liquour, i.e. country made liquor. So removing prohibition law will never be a solution. All that is required is awareness amongst people and women especially. Police must get together with the NGO’s. The fact remains that prohibition law has never been successful anywhere in the world till date, because in some or other form the liquor or like substance is prepared and you cannot stop it. Lots of tribes consume liquor as a matter of tradition. One cannot really stop consumption of alcohol. Awareness will assist by letting people know that if they consume spurious liquor it will cost their lives. Hence, awareness becomes the crucial

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT point. Prohibition law in Gujarat is necessary. It controls the crime rate as compared to other states. The imposition of fine is pathetic. It is very important that a server and hefty fine be imposed on people who are guilty for it. The police department spends at least 200 rupees on an accused and he goes scott free by paying a 50 rupees fine or so. Therefore it is necessary that fine must be hiked. (2) Views of Superintendent of Police, Khera district: Mr. Himanshu Shukla Hooch is basically known as ‘Lattha’ in local language. It is majorly produced in the ravines of Vatra because for the production of Hooch, continous supply of water is very essential and the water can easily be obtained from the Vatra river. The ravines of Vatra are a paradise to the Hooch producers because it is very dense and is not easily accessible by the police. Also if these hooch producers come to know of the fact that police is going to raid the area, they leave their raw material behind i.e. a few logs of wood, jaggery (gud) and water. Thus they do not suffer any considerable loss also because the manufacturing of Hooch is not very expensive. The S.P also said that a lot of widows and women are involved in the manufacture of hooch and even if they are caught no strict action is taken on them because of them being the vulnerable sections of our society. According to him ‘Lattha’ does not cause the death of a person and it is ‘methanol’ which is fatal. This methanol first affects the eyes and causes blindness and after that starts affecting other organs of the body leading to the death of a person. He said that ‘methanol’ can’t be banned because it is needed for the production of soaps and for many other purposes. The S.P even said that as methanol and ethanol look almost similar people by mistake consume the former which leads to death. Mr. Shukla said that to stop ‘methanol’ from illegaly entering the market, the procedure for getting the license for methanol should be made flexible and less time consuming. As per him, if a soap manufacturer hypothetically manufactures 100 units of soap per day and later he decides to increase his production to 200 units of soap per day. This would lead to an increase in the usage of methanol. As the producer only has a license for

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT obtaining methanol which is sufficient enough to manufacture 100 units of soap per day he would either make an application to increase his license capacity so that he can get extra methanol or obtain the deficit by contacting a bootlegger. As the procedure of increase in license capacity is time consuming the producer prefers the latter option and starts obtaining the methanol through bootleggers. This leads to illegal entry of methanol in the market. The infrastructure available at the police stations is not upto the mark and is also not sufficient to catch the people manufacturing ‘hooch’. He said that that a normal police station in the area only has two patrolling vehicles. As due to paucity of funds these vehicles are not well maintained and even lack fuel most of the time. Also the area which comes under a police station is large enough and can’t be handled with such small police force. The S.P also pointed on the low salary of police officers (constables) and said that due to such meager salary efficient people do not join the police force and even those who are a part of it do not have an incentive to work in an efficient manner thus affecting the efficiency of police to tackle crimes. It is not easy to stop the production of ‘hooch’ beacuse it can easily be manufactured in a house and it is impossible for the police officials to raid each and every house in the area. Also hooch is cheap and as no strict penalties or fines are imposed even if a person is caught makes this trade more lucrative. Mr. Shukla therefore pointed towards stricter laws which impose strict punishments and penalties so that people get dettered to join this trade. He also pointed out that police alone cannot curb the manufacture of hooch and he called upon the NGO’s to even help in this regard so that awareness about the ill effects of hooch can be spread amongst the masses and other employment options must be provided to the poor by the government only then would people not enter this vicious cycle of hooch trade. Therefore all the people of the society must join hands to stop such tragedies from happening.

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT (3) Views from consumers of alcohol in the state of Gujarat The drinking habit is spread mainly among industrial workers. Gujarat is one of the states where the highest consumption of alcohol takes place in India and this is slated to be well over 50%. 10% of females consume hard drinks. These women mainly belong to the upper class of society. These consumers consume alcohol on a daily basis who mainly consume country made liquor as foreign made liquor is expensive. While upper class people spend less than 10% of their income on alcohol, those belonging to the middle class spend 25 to 50% of their income and those belonging to the lower strata of society spend over 50% of their income on purchasing and consuming alcohol. People in Gujarat mainly drink in groups at home since consumption of alcohol is banned throughout the state. According to consumers, liquor is freely available in Gujarat and is mainly smuggled from other neighbouring states especially Rajasthan. In addition, in interior parts of the state, it is also locally prepared. The consumer whom we interviewed said that there one of his main sources of supply was the armed forces whose personal would buy the stock from the wet canteen and sell it outside for over tree times the price. He also stated that the supply takes place in dark and shady places and the best sources of contacts are auto fellows who maintain links with such armed forces personal and other persons who smuggle liquor into the state. Quite often people go for spurious liquor because of two reasons: (a) unknowingly and (b) it is cheaper. People mainly drink to celebrate and when they are in depression to get rejuvenated. There are a number of entry points through which liquor comes in to Gujarat. Mainly it is brought in trucks, tankers etc. after concealing it in various ingenious ways, such as false compartments in the vehicle, hiding it under the normal load of the truck which may consist of rice, vegetables and so on. In addition, liquor is also brought in smaller vehicles, such as tempos, cars, jeeps etc. through side roads. After entering Gujarat, the liquor is distributed through smaller vehicles to the local bootleggers. Normally, representatives of the local bootleggers siphon their supply at some remote place from

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT the main vehicle, which has brought liquor from outside the State. Though some females are involved in liquor trade, it cannot be said more females are involved. Most of the I.M.F.L., which enters into Gujarat, is coming from the neighbouring States which do not have prohibition. Until last year, the liquor was coming mainly from Rajasthan. However, following the change in the excise policy in Rajasthan, implemented in 2005-06, wherein instead of auctioning areas for sale of liquor, liquor shops are selling liquor on behalf of the Government. Hence it has no longer been profitable for the liquor contractors of Rajasthan to siphon liquor to Gujarat. There is now an increase in illegal liquor is coming from Daman which is union Territory where liquor is manufactured.

VII. CONCLUSION The Government of Gujarat, since the inception of Gujarat State, has decided to follow total prohibition. This is in accordance with the directives, principles of State policy enshrined in the Constitution of India. Implementation of prohibition has benefited Gujarat and its people in various ways like for instance, people generally do not spend their hard earned money on liquor consumption. This leads to better harmony and reduction of poverty among the poor families. On account of prohibition, no one can come in a public place after consuming liquor. This has resulted in preventing public nuisance. It also has provided general security, especially for women and children. Perhaps Gujarat is the only state in India where women can freely roam around in the streets 'alone' even at midnight without the fear of getting abused, assaulted, molested, kidnapped or even raped. One of the major reasons for this is liquor Prohibition. And third major benefit is that, due to prohibition health problems due to consumption of liquor is minimal.

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HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT Drunken driving and related accidents are not so low in Gujarat, because most of the truck drivers consume country liquor which is cheaper and easily accessible. But these figures are no way close to how it is in other states. So relatively drunken driving is lower. This is a direct effect of prohibition policy, as the drivers are cautious about paying the hefty fine if got caught drunken. The following steps were being taken up by the Prohibition Department when it looked after enforcement work. The police had taken similar steps like getting information regarding the flow of illegal I.M.F.L. and taking steps to apprehend such illegal liquor. Those involved were also prosecuted by the courts. After getting information, steps were taken to prevent distillation of country liquor as well as its distribution. Based on previous records, lists of bootleggers were prepared whose activities were constantly checked and monitored by the Department. Preventive action under the law was also taken to check their activities. This included booking bootleggers under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA) which is a preventive detention law in this State. No doubt, the Government is losing revenue on account of prohibition since it gets only limited excise revenue from this source. However, the Government has taken a conscious decision that loss of revenue is acceptable, but the Government does not want to violate the Constitution and the principles laid down by Mahatma Gandhi just to get some revenue gains.

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Bibliography
Articles
1) Chandra S.C., “Alcohol, Crime and Responsibility”, Criminal Law Journal, 2000 2) Henderson Yandell, “Science, Law and Alcohol”, Harpers’s Magazine, June, 1933 3) Chacko Romy, “Freedom of Trade in Liquor- A Fundamental Right?”, KLT 1991(2) 4) Bengelsdorf, I.S., “Alcohol, Morphine Addictions Believed Chemically Similar”, Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1970, 11, 7. Websites 1) www.ibnlive.com 2) www.manupatra.com 3) www.google.com GUJARAT NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY 25

HOOCH TRAGEDY INQUIRY REPORT 4) www.timesofindia.com 5) www.businessstandard.com 6) www.indianexpress.com

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