Patna High Court Justice almost equated consuming Alcohol to drinking water and hence termed it to be a basic Fundamental Right protected by the Constitution
An interesting Question propped before Patna High Court, Is drink alcohol an undeniable right guaranteed by the Constitution?
While answering this question, a two-member bench of the Patna high court on Friday unanimously ruled against the currently imposed prohibition in Bihar on other legal grounds.
However the judges differed among themselves in the most interesting question raised in the case.
Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh observed that in his opinion, right to drink alcohol by a citizen in a responsible manner, is a part of legal right to privacy.
This way he almost equated alcohol to drinking water and hence a basic fundamental right protected by the Constitution of India, and thus no other laws can overrule it.
On the contrary his brother judge and Chief Justice of the High Court Iqbal Ahmed Ansari differed on this reasoning.
As per him access to liquor can be claimed as a matter of right only until the Government of the day bans it.
His reasoning was based on the Article 47 of the Constitution which directs States in Indian that they “shall endeavour” to enforce prohibition and it is a directive principle of the State policy set by the Constitution itself. As such no citizen can complain of violation of his fundamental right when a constitutional mandate is enforced by the governments.
But Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh on his part was of the view that consumption of liquor in itself is not injurious, but only abuse of it and the mere plea of possibility of abuse by some persons, the right of others cannot be abrogated.
He was of the view that the State should not dictate a citizen on what to drink or what not to drink, though the same is not per se injurious to health, as it would be a direct intrusion on personal liberty affecting meaningful life guaranteed by Constitution more so when liquor has been categorised as “food” under the food safety regulations.
Justice Singh observed that in 65 years after independence not many governments have imposed prohibition.
Prohibition Law was introduced by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar earlier this year in Bihar.
Some had termed it Draconian in letter and spirit.
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