GUWAHATI, March 25 - The Assam Government is set to enact a new set of excise laws under which key offences, including those related to illegal storage of liquor, transport, labelling, sale, etc., will be non-bailable and tried by the court of law.
The excise department has already prepared a draft law in this regard, proposing eight major amendments and five new sections in the Assam Excise Act, 2000 covering new offences where the existing punishment provisions are not adequate. It is likely to be placed before the Cabinet soon.
Excise Minister Parimal Suklabaidya told The Assam Tribune that the present Act had loopholes and was weak.
�Offenders used to go scot-free after paying a fine. There was little that the department could do to prevent the violations and there was no fear among the bad elements. If the offenders are put behind bars, it will act as a deterrent,� he said, adding the new law will safeguard human health and enhance revenue collection at the same time.
The minister also indicated that the government may bring about an ordinance if it takes time to pass the amendments in the Assembly.
A senior excise official said under the new law, most of the violations, including illegal storage, illegal sale, illegal transport, fake labelling, duty evasion, etc., will be non-bailable offences.
�Now we cannot even seize a vehicle transporting liquor illegally. Once the new law is in place, we will be able to seize the vehicle. Then vehicle owners will think twice before lending heir vehicles for such offences. All the cases will be then disposed of by the court of law. The new set of laws will hopefully act as a strong deterrent and help check illegal liquor business to a great extent,� the official said.
The new law proposes jail terms ranging from six months to three years against offenders, besides enhanced fines. There will also be provisions for lodging cases against company owners, which is not there at present.
Under the proposed law, any person consuming liquor in a public place will have to pay a fine of up to Rs 5,000.
During the period, April to January in the financial year, altogether 26,841 cases of violation were registered by the excise department. In the same period in this financial year, altogether 24,770 cases were registered by the department.