Alcohol prohibition in India

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A certificate gifted at Parambikulam Tiger Reserve to the visitors of the tiger reserve.

Alcohol prohibition in India is in force in the states of Gujarat, Nagaland and parts of Manipur; as well as in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Kerala has been implementing prohibition in a phased manner since 2014. Bihar has announced a ban on alcohol sale starting 1 April 2016. All other Indian states and union territories permit the sale of alcohol.


Bombay State had prohibition between 1948 and 1950, and again from 1958.[1] Gujarat has a sumptuary law in force that proscribes the manufacture, storage, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The legislation has been in force since 1 May 1960 when Bombay State dissolved into Maharashtra and Gujarat. The Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 is still in force in both states, however the licensing regime in Maharashtra is quite liberal with granting licenses to vendors and traders. Gujarat is the only Indian state with a death penalty for makers and sellers of homemade liquor where fatalities are caused. The legislation is titled the Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2009.[2] The legislation was prompted by numerous deaths resulting from the consumption of methyl alcohol.[3]

Predictably, smuggling and illicit sale of alcohol are very common.[4] "Folder" is a slang term of unknown origin, used in Gujarat to refer to a bootlegger who delivers alcohol on-demand.


Foreigners and NRIs are able to purchase 30-day liquor permits.[5]


On 24 August 2014, the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced, after a long persuasion from KPCC President V M Sudheeran, that state will implement prohibition in a phased manner.[6] The decision was supported by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Kerala Congress.[7] Liquor bars in Kerala had to renew licenses every year; the state government did not license any bar on 31 March 2014, resulting in the closure of 418 bars. The state government also declared its intention of not renewing licenses of the remaining 313 bars in the state next year. The state owned Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) has 338 shops, and Bevco will shut down 10% of them every year. Consumerfed, which has 46 shops, will also be closed. However, sale of alcohol will continue to be permitted in 5-star hotels, and there were fourteen 5-star hotels in the state as of August 2014.[8] Toddy will also continue to be legally sold, and toddy shops will be permitted to operate as earlier.[6]


On 26 November 2015, the Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar announced that Alcohol will be banned in Bihar from April 1, 2016.[9] More details are yet to be announced by the Government.


Lakshadweep completely bans the sale and consumption of alcohol.[5] Consumption is permitted only on the island of Bangaram. Bangaram is an uninhabited island, but the Bangaram Island Resort has a bar.[10]


Prohibition in force in districts shown in red, repealed in green.

Prohibition is enforced in the Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur districts of Manipur. Prohibition was enforced statewide by the R.K. Ranbir Singh government with effect from 1 April 1991.[11] Local brews called ashaba and atingba are available in most areas, and authorities usually ignore their sale and consumption.[5]

In 2002, the Okram Ibobi Singh government lifted prohibition in the five hill districts of Manipur.[1][12] The state Legislative Assemble passed the Manipur Liquor Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2002 on 31 July 2002 lifting prohibition in the districts[13] of Chandel, Churachandpur, Senapati, Tamenglong and Ukhrul. In July 2014, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh stated in the Manipur state assembly that the state government was looking at the option of lifting prohibition in the state. [14]


The Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act (NLTP) banned the sale and consumption of alcohol in 1989.[15] Enforcement of the ban is lax and Indian Made Foreign Liquor is readily available. Authorities generally turn a blind eye towards illegal sales. Reports have stated that some police officials themselves engage in bootlegging.[5][16] The Congress party has termed prohibition a "total failure" and has pleaded for it to be revoked.[1]

The excise department had earned around 600 lakh (equivalent to 41 crore or US$6.1 million in 2016) prior to prohibition. It earned about 10 lakh (US$15,000) annually in NLTP Act related fines as of June 2014.[17] The Morung Express estimated that were about 500 illegal liquor bars in Dimapur, the largest city in the state, as of August 2014.[18] Alcohol is also smuggled in from neighbouring Assam.[17]

Dry days

Dry Days are specific days when the sale of alcohol is prohibited. Dry Days are fixed by the respective state government. Most Indian states observe dry days on major religious festivals/occasions depending on the popularity of the festival in that region. National holidays such as Republic Day (26 January), Independence Day (15 August) and Gandhi Jayanti (2 October) are usually dry days throughout India.[19] Dry days also depend on the establishment selling alcohol. For example, generally 5-star hotels do not have to observe all the dry days that liquor stores and small bars may have to. Dry days are also observed on and around voting days.[20][21] National dry days also occur during Election Commission of India-ordained voting and result days.

Earlier bans

Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Mizoram and Tamil Nadu have previously enforced, but later repealed prohibition.

Andhra Pradesh

Total prohibition was introduced in Madras State (which included Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema) when C. Rajagopalachari became Chief Minister in 1952.[22] N. Chandrababu Naidu repealed prohibition in 1997, claiming that it was "not successful or feasible because of the leakages within the state and from across the borders".[1]


The Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition (MLTP) Act banned sale and consumption of alcohol in 1995.[1] In 2007, the MLTP Act was amended to allow wine to be made from guavas and grapes, but with restrictions on the alcohol content and the volume possessed. It is illegal to transport these products out of the state.[5]

Mizoram repealed prohibition on 10 July 2014, a period of 17 years after it had been imposed. On that date, the state Legislative Assembly passed the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Bill 2014 (or MLPC), replacing the MLTP Act.[23] The Presbyterian Church had organised mass prayers in all member churches across the state twice that year opposing the repeal of prohibition. Excise and narcotics minister R. Lalzirliana who introduced the MLPC bill explained, "As the prohibition only increased the sale of spurious liquor, we strongly felt the need to lift the prohibition so that those people who cannot do without drinks can find good quality liquor at cheaper prices." Lalzirliana, who also belongs to Presbyterian Church, had also participated in a mass prayer at his local church. The minister stated, "I asked God to prevent me from introducing the bill in the Assembly if that is what he really wanted."[24]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "The tragedy of prohibition". The Indian Express. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Sinha, Kounteya (16 December 2011). "Bengal hooch tragedy: Alcohol among major global killers". The Times of India.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Bengal Hooch tragedy: Toll 171, excise officer suspended". The Indian Express. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Prohibition – Gujarat's worst kept secret". 11 December 2002. Retrieved 21 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "No Drink For You? India's Dry States". Full Stop India.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Kerala, one of the highest consumers of alcohol, to bid goodbye to booze". The Economic Times. ET bureau. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. This decision is backed by the Muslim League and the Christian dominated Kerala Congress and in many ways could be seen as a political decision.
  10. "Bangaram Island Resort Official Website". Retrieved 19 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Welman, Frans (19 March 2011). Out of Isolation - Exploring a Forgotten World. Booksmango. p. 473. Retrieved 24 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Alcohol prohibition to remain in Nagaland".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Nagaland 'wet' after 23 yrs of prohibition". The Telegraph. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1
  19. Three cheers to dry days!
  22. "Yo-yoing of prohibition in TN". The New Indian Express. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading