Supreme Court slams Punjab ‘lethargy’ in acting against liquor mafia | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday disapproved of the Punjab government’s lethargy in acting against the liquor mafia and those responsible for the 2020 hooch tragedy that claimed 120 lives in Tarn Taran, Amritsar and Gurdaspur, which had led to massive protests including by AAP led by Bhagwant Singh Mann, the present CM, against the then Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh.
“We are not at all satisfied with the progress of the investigation. It appears no serious efforts seem to have been made to book the culprits who are in the business of manufacturing and transportation of illicit liquor,” said a bench of Justices M R Shah and M M Sundresh.
The bench said, “The up-per crust of the society does not suffer from the illegal manufacture and sale of illicit liquor. It is the lower strata and poor which suffer the adverse effects of hooch and sometimes pay with their lives. ” It directed the state government to file an affidavit/ status report within two weeks detailing the action taken against distilleries, breweries and bottling plants concerning illicit liquor.
Appearing for a petitioner, advocate Prashant Bhushan told the bench that largescale illegal liquor manufac-turing and its sale is going on unabated in Punjab in connivance of police and politicians and that the government has taken only ineffective facile measures, both penal and administrative. “No police official or politician is named in the FIRs,” he said.
The Punjab excise department, in an affidavit before the court, said that the police have registered 13 FIRs but chargesheets have been filed in three cases, while investigation is continuing in the rest.
The Justice Shah-led bench said, “No particulars aboutthe FIRs or chargesheets, the name of accused persons, are revealed in the affidavit filed by the state. It has not stated what action has been taken against those responsible for manufacturing, bottling, and transporting illicit liquor. ”
When the state government said that penalties have been imposed on illegal liquor manufacturers, the bench asked, “Does the state consider imposing a penalty as a deterrent? If you even cancel the licenses, then also many more illegal manufacturers would come up. Have you collected the levy imposed on the illegal liquor manufacturers,” it asked.
The bench said, “The overall picture depicts lack of periodic inspection and supervision of the ground situation by police and excise department officials. ” It posted the matter for further hearing on December 5.





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