Chandigarh, September 20
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that the menace of distilling of illicit liquor is a serious problem in Punjab, especially in view of the deaths due to its consumption during the past three-four years. Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri also made it clear that confiscation of a “huge quantity” of lahan, the raw material for distillation of illicit liquor, was certainly a relevant ground for denial of anticipatory bail to an accused.
No anticipatory bail
Confiscation of huge quantity of raw material is certainly a relevant ground for denial of anticipatory bail. Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri
The assertion by Justice Puri came on a petition by an accused for grant of anticipatory bail in an FIR registered on December 23, 2021, under the provisions of the Punjab Excise Act at a police station in Ropar district.
Opposing the plea, the state counsel contended that the menace was required to be checked since Punjab had witnessed a number of deaths in the past three-four years. Justice Puri’s Bench was also told that a large portion of the confiscated liquor was in plastic tarpaulin, which was otherwise also unhygienic and could make the lahan toxic.
After hearing rival contentions and going through the documents, Justice Puri asserted that the allegations were that the petitioner, along with co-accused, was distilling illicit liquor and 10, 000 litres of lahan was seized from a place on the Punjab and Himachal Pradesh border.
The argument by the state counsel that the menace of distilling of illicit liquor was a serious problem carried weight, especially in view of the deaths. The mere fact that the petitioner was not found at the spot, or the land where the activity was allegedly being carried out, did not belong to him would not vest a right in him for the grant of anticipatory bail. This was particularly so when other relevant factors, deserving consideration, were in existence.
Justice Puri observed that the petitioner was stated to be involved in 14 more cases in Himachal Pradesh. The argument by his counsel that pendency of other cases could not be treated as a bar for grant of bail appeared to be attractive, but did not cut ice as he was still facing trial in 11 cases.
“The petitioner is involved in those cases, which affect a large section of society. It has not only an adverse social impact, but also affects the rights of lives of the people at large. There is no dispute regarding the fact that a large number of people had died due to consumption of spurious liquor in the state. Therefore, confiscation of huge quantity of lahan, which affects a large number of persons, can certainly become a relevant ground for denial of anticipatory bail to the petitioner,” Justice Puri added.
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