The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Patna High Court order that had struck down the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, which bans the sale of liquor across the state. The High Court on September 30 had called prohibition "illegal", and set it aside. However, the apex court judgment restored the ban in the state. The Supreme Court has asked all stakeholders, including liquor manufacturers, to submit their responses on the case.
The High Court had passed the order while hearing a public interest litigation filed by a former Army officer, AN Singh, who had argued that the law was a violation of citizens' right to eat and drink what they wanted to. The petition described the law as "draconian, arbitrary and malafide", saying it violated articles 14, 19, 21 and 22 of the Constitution, which provide citizens the right to equality before law, to carry on any trade or business, to personal liberty and to protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.
On April 5, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had announced his Cabinet's decision to impose a complete ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in Bihar, including Indian-made foreign liquor, with immediate effect. The amended Act had been passed in the Bihar Legislative Assembly on March 31.