Alcohol Ban: A Legal Perspective by Somesh Vaidya @LexCliq


The total prohibition of alcohol is defined as the governmental prohibition of alcohol production, transportation, sales, and consumption. Alcohol consumption is thought to be responsible for 4% of the global illness burden, forcing governments to enact legislation to reduce the negative effects of alcohol. Among these include chronic illnesses such as liver cirrhosis and certain cancers, as well as poor health induced by trauma, violence, and accidental accidents. As a result of these reasons, most governments try to restrict alcohol use via law, with just a few nations openly prohibiting it. During the coronavirus epidemic, this ban system has accelerated.

India’s Legality and Practicality

It is essential to comprehend the scope of the “liquor prohibition,” which says that anybody who unlawfully imports, exports, transports, produces, owns, or sells any kind of intoxicant or liquor commits a crime and will face legal consequences. Following that, the scope is modified to suit the requirements of a certain state.[

When it comes to liquor rules in India, there is no consistency, and they vary from one state to the next, whether it’s the legal drinking age or the laws that regulate the sale and use of alcohol. The inclusion of alcohol on the State list, which comes under the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution, has resulted in price variations and alcohol-related laws.

The drinking laws also define where in the United States alcohol may be bought. While some jurisdictions allow the sale of liquor in grocery shops, department stores, banquet halls, and/or farmhouses, other tourist areas have special laws that enable alcohol to be sold on beaches and houseboats. Some states explicitly ban the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Liquor is presently banned in Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland, Mizoram, and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep in India. Manipur, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Tamil Nadu have removed the ban. The primary motivation for such action was to decrease crime against women and against oneself. These crimes include murders, gang robberies, and other kinds of state-level crime, riots and illegal assemblies, traffic related accidents which include hit and run & driving in intoxicated state, excessive alcohol intake causing fatalities, violence against women and children etc.

Drinking in public is deemed a nuisance and is thus prohibited. Although public drinking is not widespread in India, pubs and bars have become a more convenient method for young people to drink.

According to Section 40 of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 drinking alcohol in public places would result in a penalty of Rs 5,000, with a fine of up to Rs 10,000 and a three-month prison term if the offender creates a disturbance. And Section 510 of the Indian Penal Code[6] specifies the penalty to be of 24 hours of simple imprisonment or fine of Rs. 10, or both.


The list of drinking age in the respective states is given below:

State/Union Territory Age limit
Andaman & Nicobar Islands 21
Andhra Pradesh 21
Arunachal Pradesh 21
Assam 25
Bihar Illegal (Total ban)
Chandigarh 25
Chhattisgarh 21
Daman and Diu 25
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 25
Delhi 25
Goa 18
Gujarat Illegal (Total ban)
Haryana 25
Himachal Pradesh 18
Jammu and Kashmir 18
Jharkhand 21
Karnataka 21
Kerala 23
Lakshadweep Illegal (except island of Bangaram)
Madhya Pradesh 21
Maharashtra 18 for Wine
21 for Beer
25 for Others
Manipur Illegal (Partial ban)
Meghalaya 21
Mizoram 21
Nagaland Illegal
Odisha 21
Puducherry 18
Punjab 25
Rajasthan 18
Sikkim 18
Tamil Nadu 21
Telangana 21
Tripura 21
Uttar Pradesh 21
Uttarakhand 21
West Bengal 21


The authorities have long been on the lookout for alcohol-related activity. The Khoday case was the first significant lawsuit involving alcohol marketing. The selling of alcoholic drinks is prohibited under Article 47 of the Constitution. Governments, on the other hand, have the authority to authorise such commerce since DPSPs are unenforceable, but it is up to them to regulate it.

The aforementioned stance of liquor commerce being illegal has grown outdated over time, and the Supreme Court in the Kerala case ruled that liquor trade is constitutional and therefore allowed. The Bihar High Court heard the first challenge to the “liquor ban’s” legality. The limitation was ruled “illegal, impractical, and unconstitutional” by the Bihar High Court on September 30, 2016. The State Government appealed to the Supreme Court after being dissatisfied with the HC’s judgement.

The Supreme Court not only overturned the HC Order, but also directed that no legal action be taken against the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016, which took effect on October 2, 2016, before eventually finding that the legislation is legally legitimate. The Supreme Court ordered that liquor outlets must be at least 500 metres away from all state and national roads throughout the country, with no exceptions. The judgement was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2017, with the exception of roads in Meghalaya and Sikkim, which feature hilly and uneven terrain.

As a consequence, there has been a substantial change in mindset between 1995 and 2019. Both the commercialization of alcohol and the prohibition of alcohol are now constitutional. As a consequence, it has been established that liquor prohibitions at the state level in India are enforced for socioeconomic reasons. The Supreme Court of India has held that state laws imposing criminal responsibility for the production, transportation, possession, and consumption of liquor are legally acceptable.

Witten by Somesh Vaidya

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