Talli before 25. Really?
Niharika Pandit questions the Bombay Prohibition Act 1949 governing alcohol consumption in the city.
It was in June 2011, when Maharashtra government was vehement to change the laws regulating booze intake. Amidst a number of scams scathing the city, the state chose to raise the bar of legal drinking age from 21 years to 25 years of age. A major dissent had then sprung up among Mumbaikars.
“This would be a good time to point out that by the age of 25, you could have voted the Maharashtra government seven times over, and been married four years — which, as most married folk will testify, is as good a reason for needing a martini or 14,” said comedian Rohan Joshi, in an interview to CNNgo.com.
Recently, city residents seem disgruntled by the unexpected raids on bars and pubs across Mumbai. Constables of the Social Service department of Mumbai police led by ACP Vasant Dhoble are all over the place; pubs, restaurants, spas.
It all started with Café Zoe, on Friday night on grounds that the restaurant was playing music without a proper performance license and that the establishment had violated the Bombay Police Act 1960 rule that specified only 166 people per 1000 square feet in a restaurant.
And then followed a spate of raids in several popular zones in the city.
Youngsters in the city seem to be affected the most by these constant raids. It is not only about disruption in their ‘night-life’ but college-going students are paranoid about not abiding by the state liquor law which legalises alcohol consumption only after the age of 25. Till now, the ‘archaic’ law was sporadic and least talked about. But this flurry of raids seems to have instilled a deep sense of fear among youngsters.
Smriti Parikh (18) a second-year student feels that the liquor law needs to changed. “We are allowed to vote at the age of 18. Females can get married at 18. Then why are we not allowed to consume alcohol which is completely normal?” she says. Another student Richa Gidwani (19) believes “The moment we turn 18, we’re classified as adults. They why are we not allowed to drink? Moreover, alcohol consumption is a matter of choice and the state should not intervene.”
Many adults also believe that frequent raids have now hampered them from visiting bars as there is a constant sense of fear of the place being raided. Aadhya Kaul (19) has to think twice before going out and partying with friends as one of the very famous bars in South Mumbai asks for a proof of age.
Furthermore, the law also states that ‘an individual must consume an intoxicant or hemp for bona fide medicinal, scientific, industrial or educational purposes.’
Surendra Chaplot (24) a city based entrepreneur says “We talk about curbing corruption yet we have to sign a fake document stating the ‘reason’ of alcohol consumption. And the government seems to raise no questions over it.”
|Alcohol types||Legal Age|
|Beer||Above 21 years|
|Heavy alcohol||Above 25 years|
Several protests have been organised time and again. Actors like Imran Khan have stood up terming the liquor law as an obliteration of constitutional rights. But the question still persists. Is the ‘mutiny’ on Facebook and Twitter enough to make the government amend this law? Or it is time to lobby and make the law-makers realise that youngsters no longer need to be handled and are capable of making an informed decision?
Isn’t it time to practice to what the youngsters preach? The choice is all yours.