Mere Rs 20,000 Fine on Booze Sellers for Playing with Human Life amid lockdown during the Pandemic.
Already under the scanner for giving more importance to revenue while turning a blind eye towards brazen violations and irregularities in the liquor trade, the excise department of Thane district has now stoked a controversy by giving a kids glove treatment to errant beer bars and shops owners who were caught selling Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks during the total lockdown period.
While excise officials remained in slumber, the Thane (rural) police played an active role to seize the consignment. Under the leadership of its SP, Thane Rural Police had conducted raids and caught the operators red-handed. They were selling booze to tipplers.
Cases were filed under the sections of the BPA, IPC, Disaster Management Act and Excise Act. However, the Excise Department allows bar and shop owners to reopen their establishments. They are just paying paltry fines of Rs 20,000, each. Thus, defeating the sole purpose of lockdown and encouraging the spread of the pandemic.
Notably, the district administration termed the action as a simple breach of the rule. And decided the quantum of punishment. This despite the fact that such acts are punishable offences with jail terms.
“Yes, we allowed to operate the four establishments after fining them,” confirmed an excise officer. “We had officially sought cancellation of licenses granted to such establishments in May this year,” said a police officer.
Now, waiting for consignment release
Now, the errant beer bars and liquor shops owners are awaiting judicial orders to get their seized consignment released. Their consignments are in police custody. Since the lockdown declared, the excise wing should have to seal all liquor vends and stockrooms of bars and permit rooms.
However, the lockdown turned out to be a blessing in disguise for some licensed establishments who minted money by selling the booze at exorbitant prices. The collector himself heads the district disaster management authority.