OTHER SOCIAL SERVICES

PROHIBITION AND EXCISE DEPARTMENT.

Organisation.

The prohibition policy of the Government aims at moral, ethical and economic uplift of the common man and achieving peaceful living conditions in the society. To implement this policy the prohibition laws have been enforced prohibiting production, possession, export, import, sale, consumption and use of all intoxicants except as permitted by any rules, or orders.

Prohibition was introduced in Chandrapur District with effect from 1st October, 1946, under the Central Provinces and Berar Prohibition Act, 1938, which was in force in that district till 31st March 1959 and thereafter the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 (XXV of 1949) was extended to the district with effect from April 1, 1959. The Collector is charged with the administration of Prohibition and Excise department in the district. In that respect he is responsible to the Director of Prohibition and Excise, Maharashtra State, Bombay. He is invested with powers under the Bombay Prohibition Act (XXV of 1949). He also exercises powers under the Dangerous Drugs Act, (II of 1930), and the Bombay Opium Smoking Act (XX of 1936). Under the Bombay Prohibition Act, prohibition or restrictions have been placed on the manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, possession, use and consumption of liquor, intoxicating drugs or hemp, mhowa flowers and molasses and of articles containing liquor, intoxicating drugs or hemp. The Collector has powers to grant, cancel or suspend licenses, permits and passes under the Act.

The Director of Prohibition and Excise is the Head of the Prohibition and Excise Department and is responsible for the administration of the laws relating to Prohibition and Excise in the whole State. His office, therefore, forms a central organisation for directing the proper implementation of the policy of the department and for guiding the Collectors and District Prohibition and Excise Officers in the State.

The Prohibition and Excise department administers the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949, the Bombay Opium Smoking Act, 1936, the Bombay Drugs (Control) Act, 1959, the Medicinal and Toilet Preparations (Excise Duties) Act, 1955, the Spirituous Preparations (Inter-State Trade and Commerce) Control Act, 1955 and the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930 and rules and regulations made thereunder. The subjects dealt with by the above Acts are briefly as under: -

(i) The Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949, prohibits the production, manufacture, possession, exportation, importation, transportation, purchase, sale, consumption and use of all intoxicants. However, these transactions can be permitted by Rules, Regulations or Orders. The Act also regulates the possession, sale, etc., of mhowa flowers and molasses.

(ii) The Bombay Opium Smoking Act, 1936 prohibits the smoking of opium.

(iii) The Bombay Drugs (Control) Act, 1959, regulates the possession and sale of certain drugs which are used in a manner injurious to health and which are specified by Government in the Maharashtra Government Gazette as 'Notified Drugs'.

(iv) The Medicinal and Toilet Preparations (Excise Duties) Act, 1955 provides for the levy and collection of duty on medicinal and toilet preparations containing alcohol, opium, Indian hemp or other narcotic drug or narcotics.

(v) The Spirituous Preparations (Inter-State Trade and Commerce) Control Act, 1955, regulates in the public interest the movement on an inter-State basis of certain spirituous  medicinal and other preparations.

(vi) The Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930 prohibits the manufacture, exportation, importation, sale, possession and transportations of manufactured drugs like cocaine, morphine, heroin, pethidine, etc., except in accordance with the rules made in that behalf.

Enforcement Work.

The enforcement of prohibition, i.e., detection, investigation, etc., of offences under the above acts is entrusted to the Police Department. Though officers of the Prohibition and Excise Department of and above the rank of Sub-Inspectors have been invested with powers to investigate offences, these officers generally pass on information of the commission of offences and handover the cases detected by them to the police for investigation. The Home Guard organisation also assists the police in this work. All revenue officers of and above the rank of mamlatdar or mahalkari, all magistrates and all officers of the Department of Prohibition and Excise of and above the rank of Sub-Inspectors have been authorised, under Section 123 of the Prohibition Act, within the limits of their respective jurisdiction, to arrest without a warrant any person whom they have reason to believe to be guilty of an offence under the Act, and to seize and detain any articles of contraband. The officer so authorised, when he arrests any person or seizes and detains any articles, has to forward such person or articles, without unnecessary delay, to the officer in charge of the nearest police station. Besides the administration of the Acts mentioned above, the Department controls the work of prohibition propaganda. Social workers of repute arc appointed at regional levels as Divisional Honorary Prohibition Organisers and they attend to the work of prohibition propaganda by addressing meetings and impressing upon the masses the evil effects of intoxicants. They also work for enlisting the co-operation of social workers and institutions for prohibition propaganda. At the district level prohibition propaganda officers carry on intensive prohibition propaganda particularly in the notorious areas of the district.

In all excise matters the administrative control is vested in the Director of Prohibition and Excise. He is also responsible for the general supervision of the prohibition propaganda work carried on by the departmental officers. The Collectors have certain functions under the aforesaid Acts such as issue of licences and permits, and they are in respect of such function, subordinate to the Director of Prohibition and Excise.

For Chandrapur district there is a Superintendent of Prohibition and Excise at Chandrapur who assists the Collector of Chanda in all excise and prohibition matters. Under the Superintendent there is one Inspector of Prohibition and Excise and five Sub-Inspectors of Prohibition and Excise for executive work.

The Inspector and Sub-inspectors or Prohibition and Excise have also been vested with certain powers under the Prohibition Act, the Dangerous Drugs Act and the Bombay Opium Smoking Act. There is also a Prohibition Propaganda Officer in Chandrapur district who carries out prohibition propaganda throughout the district under the guidance of the Superintendent of Prohibition and Excise, Chandrapur and the Divisional Honorary Prohibition Organiser, Nagpur Division. There is also a Gond Prohibition Propagandist for Gadhchiroli and Sironcha Tahsils.

The main functions of this Department are confined to licensing, inspection of licences and the enforcement of various controls enacted under the Acts referred to above, particularly under the Bombay Prohibition Act. The Officers of the Department have also to do propaganda on total prohibition and the various advantages derived therefrom amongst the people in the State and to supervise and organise recreation centres in their charges and to co-operate with the Police Department in their duties of prevention and detection of prohibition crimes. The Excise staff is responsible for the supervision of bonded manufactories, warehouses, neera centres and management of Government Liquor and Drugs Sale Depots and inspection of various excise licences. They are also required to associate themselves in increasing measures with the ameliorative and social side of the prohibition campaign, and to tighten the loopholes where such exist. Briefly, they are responsible for control, propaganda and ameliorative work, and their work now is of a liaison and supervisory type and also educational. Under Section 134 of the Prohibition Act, village officers, village servants useful to Government and officers and servants of local authorities are bound to give information to the Police of breaches of the provision of the Act which may come to their knowledge and also to prevent the commission of breaches of the provisions of the Act about which they may have knowledge. Under Section 133, officers and servants of local authorities are also bound to assist any Police Officer or person authorised to carry out the provisions of the Act. Under section 135, occupiers of lands and buildings, landlords of estates, owners of vehicles, etc., are bound to give notice of any illicit tapping of trees or manufacture of liquor or intoxicating drug to a Magistrate, Prohibition Officer or Police Officer as soon as it comes to their knowledge. With the change in the aspect of the law from the old fiscal to new social and moral objective, offences under the prohibition Act came to be regarded as offences against society and involving moral turpitude. Prohibition offences were, therefore, made cognizable and with the introduction of total prohibition all the powers in connection with investigations, prevent on, detection, prosecution, etc., of prohibition offences were vested in the police. The work of prevention, detection, etc., of prohibition offences is now a regular duty of the police staff. The main difficulty encountered in the enforcement of prohibition is lack of adequate co-operation of the public to help the police in the prevention and detection of prohibition offences. The difficulty of securing the services of respectable persons to work as panch witnesses in prohibition cases is also often felt.

Permits.

Various permits are granted for possession, use etc., of foreign liquor. They are:-

(1) Emergency Permit.-An Emergency Permit is granted for the use of consumption of brandy, rum or champaigne to any person for his/her own use or consumption or to any head of a household for the use of his/her household for medicinal use on emergent occasions. The permit is granted for a yearly period up to 31st March and for a quantity not exceeding 4 drams i.e., 13 fluid ounces of brandy, or rum or 8 drams i.e., 26 fluid ounces of Champaigne for three months. A permit is not granted to more than one member of a household at any one time. The term 'Household' is defined as a group of persons residing and messing jointly as the members of one domestic unit.

(2) Health Permit.-The Health Permit is granted for the use or consumption of foreign liquor to any person who requires such liquor for the preservation or maintenance of his health. Persons over 40 years of age are granted Health Permit for the quantity as recommended by a Registered Medical Practitioner but not exceeding 4 units per month for two years and Persons below the age group of 30 and 40 years are granted three units per month for one year and persons below 30 years are granted 2 units per month for one year on recommendation of the Area Medical Board or the State Medical Board or the Registered Medical Practitioner as the case may be.

(3) Temporary Residents' Permit.-A Temporary Residents' Permit is issued to persons born and brought up or domiciled in a country outside India, where liquor is usually consumed. No permit is granted for a period exceeding twenty four months from the date of its commencement. The permit is granted for such monthly quantity not exceeding six units as the collector may fix in each case.

(4) Visitor's Permit.-Any person visiting the State of Maharashtra for a period of one week is granted this permit.

(5) Special Permit for Privileged Personages.-This permit is granted to consular officers and the members of the staff appointed by or serving under them, provided that such members are the nationals of foreign States. It is also grant- ed to the consorts and relatives of the above persons.

(6) Interim.-Any person who is eligible for a permit under rules 63, 64 or 68 of the Bombay Foreign Liquor Rules, 1953, and desires to possess, use or consume foreign liquor may apply to the collector or any other officer authorised in this behalf for an interim permit while applying for a regular permit under any of the said rules. No such permit shall be granted for such monthly quantity of foreign liquor as the Collector may fix, provided that such quantity shall not in any case exceed two units of foreign liquor per month if the permit holder is not eligible for permit under rule 63 or 68, or four units of foreign liquor per month in other cases, except with the sanction of the Director of Prohibition and Excise.

(7) Tourist's Permit.-A foreign tourist holding a tourist's introduction card or tourist visa visiting the State of Maharashtra is granted free a tourist's permit for a period of his stay in the State but for a period not exceeding one month.

Visitors.-Any person visiting the State of Maharashtra for a period of not more than a week and desiring to possess, use and consume foreign liquor shall apply to the collector. The permit shall be granted for a period not exceeding one week provided that the collector may extend the period of such permit, but in no case shall such period be extended to a total period exceeding one month. No permit shall be granted for quantity exceeding one unit per week exceeding 2 per cent of alcohol by volume or 27 quart bottles of fermented liquors of a strength exceeding 2 per cent of alcohol by volume.

Toddy.

The possession, use, etc., of toddy is completely prohibited in the district except in the areas, of Sironcha and Gadhchiroli Talukas wherein Government has granted concession to Adivasis to manufacture and possess. Toddy for domestic consumption on obtaining Toddy licences for a period of one year (i.e. July to June every year). This privilege is given to the people of this community as they are used to toddy drinking as a part of their food for ages. According to the excise arrangements now in force in that area, each individual applicant is granted Toddy licence for tapping trees ranging from 1 to 5 for domestic consumption. The permit fee and tree tax per toddy tree is 75 paise per annum respectively.

Denatured Spirit.

The possession and use of denatured spirit is prohibited, except under permit or licence. A permit for possession and use of denatured spirit for domestic purpose is normally granted for a quantity not exceeding one quart bottle per month.

Provided that the officer granting the permit may for any special reasons grant the permit for any quantity not exceeding three quart bottles per month.

Provided further that with previous sanction of the Collector a permit may be granted for a quantity exceeding three quart bottles per month.

The possession and use of denatured spirit for medical, scientific and educational purposes and for purposes of art, industry or profession is regulated by the system of licences prescribed in this behalf. Methylated industrial denatured spirit required for use in any industry etc., is allowed to be possessed  on licences issued under the Bombay Denatured Spirit Rules,  1959.

Country Liquor and wine.

Authorisations for use of country liquor and wine for a  sacramental purposes only are granted to priests of certain  communities viz., Parsees, Jews and Christians. The possession, use etc., of country liquor except for sacramental purposes is prohibited.

Ganja, Bhang and Opium.

A permit for personal consumption of Opium, Ganja and Bhang is granted only on production of a medical certificate from the Medical Board constituted by Government or Medical Officer appointed for the purpose.

Neera and Palm Products Scheme.

Neera sale licences as well as licences for manufacturing Gur from Neera are granted only to (1) the co-operative societies. organised by constructive social workers, (2) other similar organised Institutions such as Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, (3) Ashrams, (4) organisations in charge of intensive area schemes, (5) Sarvoday Centres, etc., on the recommendation of the Khadi and Village Industries Board for the State of Maharashtra. No neera licences to individuals are granted.

Sanskar Kendras.

In order to provide facilities for recreation and counter attraction for the purpose of weaning the addicts from the drink and drug habit " Sanskar Kendras" or Cultural Centres are established in labour areas or areas known for prohibition offences and they arc run either departmentally or by the efforts of the local social workers or social institutions interested in prohibition work. At the Sanskar Kendras newspapers, magazines and facilities for indoor and outdoor games are provided and programmes like bhajans, kirtans, music, folk songs, dramas etc., in which the people of the locality are interested are arranged. Government grants subsidy to the Sanskar Kendras run by social workers and institutions. In Chandrapur district, there are six departmental Sanskar Kendras one each at (1) Sironcha, (2) Kurkheda, (3) Lalpeth, (4) Mul, (5) Ankisha and (6) Sasti. Prohibition has in effect, raised the standard of living of the poorer classes. They eat better food and wear better clothes. Their children go to schools and the womenfolk are happier. They can now purchase articles which prior to prohibition would have been regarded as beyond their means. Poorer sections of the society, now resort to cinemas, hotels and other places of public amusement for entertainment frequently. Due to prohibition there has been a great change in the ideas of social values and manners. Prohibition has resulted in lesser family feuds, better and cordial relations at home, greater and proper care for their children, almost complete absence of the street brawls and of quarrelsome atmosphere of the neighbourhood and above all, in general peace and tranquillity particularly among the groups once noted for drinking and misbehaving [In 1972 the Government liberalised its prohibition policy with the result that any person above the age of 21 years can now freely purchase any quantity of liquors or wines.].

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