Lucknow: Those who cause hooch deaths in Uttar Pradesh can now be sentenced death, the state government on Wednesday said, promulgating an ordinance for amending the UP Excise Act.
Under the new act, people dealing with illicit or spurious liquor can be sentenced to life or hanged to death.
"Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik has promulgated the Uttar Pradesh Excise (Amendment) Ordinance 2017. The ordinance is related to the poisonous nature of illicit liquor and the loss of life caused by its consumption," an official statement released by the Raj Bhavan said. Since the state legislature is not in session and seeing the immediate nature of the issue, the governor approved the proposal passed by the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet after legal examinations, it said. The measure is seen as an effort to stamp out the state's illicit liquor mafia, an excise department official said.
The decision to add the death penalty provision was taken last week at a meeting of the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The measure would act as a deterrent, Uttar Pradesh excise minister Jai Pratap Singh had told PTI. After Delhi and Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh has become the third state where bootleggers may be sent to the gallows if consumption of spurious liquor leads to a loss of life.
Singh explained that to curb the manufacture of spurious liquor, provisions of life imprisonment and the death penalty have been incorporated in the existing law through the ordinance.
The death penalty provision will be applied depending upon the intensity of the case, he said. Under the proposal mooted in the Cabinet (on 19 September), the government amended various sections of the UP Excise Act and added a new section 60(A) for the purpose. The amendment will also make the offence non-bailable.
The new section seeks to provide that the guilty may be punished with life imprisonment, or Rs 10 lakh penalty, or both. Those whose spurious liquor have caused death or permanent disability can be sentenced to death. The other sections to be amended seek to enhance financial penalties in other illicit liquor-related offences.
Hooch tragedies take a heavy toll every year in Uttar Pradesh. In July, 17 people died in Azamgarh after they consumed spurious liquor. In 2015, 28 people were killed in a similar incident in the Malihabad area of Lucknow.