ethyl alcohol: Bombay HC continues investigation in 3 FIRs into ethanol licensing | Bombay News



MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court recently by joint order suspended the investigation and prevented authorities from taking coercive action against three people who sell ethyl alcohol and were accused of failing to complied with the licensing rules set by the state and the Maharashtra Prohibition Act.
Three petitions raised a common question “whether petitioners …, who sell ethyl alcohol, are required to obtain a license under the Bombay Rectified Spirits Rules, 1951, and whether they are liable to prosecution for non- rulebook, 1951 and the Maharashtra Prohibition Act, 1949. ”
The HC bench of Judges Nitin Jamdar and Sarang Kotwal noted that the motions had been filed to quash three different FIRs and to rule on the point of law. The HC said that lead lawyer Aabad Ponda appearing for one of the petitioners and lawyer Hrishikesh Mundargi appearing in the other two petitions raised questionable legal issues. It thus admitted the requests and placed them for hearing on January 24, 2022.
On the issue of whether ethanol / ethyl alcohol is an alcoholic beverage or an intoxicating substance under the Maharashtra Prohibition Act to bring prosecution, there are two decisions squarely in favor of the applicants, a noted the HC.
The state has argued that while it does not have the power to levy a tax on ethanol / ethyl alcohol, it does have the power to regulate its use and, in order to make the regulation effective, applicants must obtain licenses.
Article 65 of the law provides a penalty for the illegal importation of an intoxicating substance or hemp.
“Intoxicant” is defined as any alcoholic beverage, intoxicating drug, opium or any other substance declared intoxicating.
Additional prosecutor JP Yagnik said that when authorities visited the applicants’ premises, they found bottles of ethyl alcohol / ethanol. For the storage and sale of ethanol, a license under the 1951 rules is required, and none had a license and, therefore, this was an offense for which the FIR was filed.
Counsel argued that the ethanol / ethyl alcohol is intended for industrial laboratory units and that it is not an alcohol suitable for consumption, as provided for in the Act and which the State had no therefore no power to require a license.
The product is not suitable for consumption and, under the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act 2016, “ethanol / ethyl alcohol” would fall under the legislative domain of the central government and the state has no power over alcohol not intended for human consumption.
The state said the petitioners import ethyl alcohol and laboratory chemicals and sell them for making cough syrup. “The sale of alcohol for cough syrup using ethyl alcohol is not allowed,” the state said, adding that the use of ethyl alcohol as a country liquor also contains more than 96 % alcohol.
In short, the state argued that while there are HC judgments in support of the petitioners that a license is not required for ethyl alcohol, it should be reconsidered because the definition of ethanol / ethyl alcohol has since changed with the Bureau of Indian Standard amending the Specifications.
The HC, while maintaining the investigation and enforcement action, clarified that “the state can guarantee that ethyl alcohol, whether during its manufacture or after its manufacture, is not diverted or used for drinking purposes and the state can make the necessary regulations requiring industry to submit periodic declaration of the raw material and finished product Ethanol and can verify their content.


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