‘Dealing liquor at personal level can create havoc in society’; P&H HC denies anticipatory bail to a woman accused of distilling liquor at her house

Punjab and Haryana High Court

Punjab and Haryana High Court: In an application filed by the petitioner under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘CrPC’), apprehending her arrest in the FIR, wherein she was alleged to be distilling illicit liquor, Anoop Chitkara, J., while rejecting the bail application, opined that if people like the petitioner started dealing liquor at their own level, it could create a havoc in the society.

Background:

On 26-03-2024, the FIR was registered against the petitioner under Section 61 of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914 (‘the Excise Act’) on an information that petitioner was habitual of distilling illicit liquor in her house and selling the same to villagers at higher rates. It was also informed that she kept the Lahan in the iron drums for distilling the country-made liquor in her house and was also going to distill the liquor from Lahan that same day. Thereafter, the police party raided her house and recovered 400 litres of Lahan from her house. Therefore, she filed an application under Section 438 of the CrPC seeking anticipatory bail.

The petitioner contended that current ones and all the other previous FIRs against her had been registered at instance of the sarpanch who had an ill-will against her. Hence, she prayed for the grant of anticipatory bail.

The counsel for State opposed the bail on the grounds that the petitioner had a history of last twenty-one year’s dealing with illicit liquor and many innocent people have died due to drinking spurious liquor. Hence, she should not be granted bail.

Decision and Analysis:

The Court observed the petitioner had a massive criminal history of twenty-one cases, out of which, she was convicted in seven cases, and also all cases against the petitioner were under the Excise Act. It was highly improbable that the sarpanch was failing cases against petitioner for the last 20 years and petitioner had not even filed any complaint. The Court further opined that the petitioner had ample opportunity to lodge her complaint for filing false allegations against the sarpanch, but she failed to do so.

The Court stated that it was common knowledge that spurious liquor could cause devastating trauma and huge tragedy and it affects the poor people who go for a cheaper alternative liquor, as instead of ethyl alcohol, such liquor contained methyl alcohol which was lethal in nature. The Court was of the view that it was for this reason, the liquor was manufactured and marketed as per food quality, and if people like the petitioner started dealing liquor at their own level, by flouting food standards, it could create a havoc in the society. Therefore, the Court held that the petitioner was not entitled to anticipatory bail.

[Usha Rani v. State of Punjab, 2024 SCC OnLine P&H 4883, Order dated 30-05-2024]


Advocates who appeared in this case:

For Petitioner: Gaurav Vir Singh Behl, Advocate.

For Respondent: Gauravdeep S. Dhaliwal, Advocate.

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Code of Criminal Procedure

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