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Legal Drinking age in India

Alcohol laws in India

The legal age of purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages vary from state to state in India. In some states, the consumption of alcohol is totally prohibited and in some states, the legal age for consumption varies from 18 to 25. It is because of the subject of alcohol comes under the Entry 8 of State List of VII Schedule under the Constitution of India.

In India, Liquor generally sold at bars, liquor stores, restaurants, and hotels. But in the state of Kerala, there has been a complete monopoly of the state as far as the selling of liquor is concerned. The private owners are not allowed to sell liquor in Kerala and therefore, the state has become the sole retailer of liquor in the state.

Some states have totally banned the purchase and consumption of alcohol such as Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland and union territory of Lakshadweep and Manipur. While some states banned alcohol consumption in some districts such as Manipur. However, most of the Indian states permit the purchase and consumption of alcohol under the state’s rules & regulation.

States / Union Territories

Legal Drinking Age

Statutes / Acts / Legislation

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

18

Section 24 of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Excise Regulation, 2012

 

Andhra Pradesh

21

Andhra Pradesh Excise Act, 1968

The Andhra Pradesh (Regulation of Wholesale Trade and Distribution and Retail Trade in Indian Liquor, Foreign Liquor, Wine and Beer) Act, 1993

 

Arunachal Pradesh

21

Section 42 of the Arunachal Pradesh Excise Act, 1993

 

Assam

21 Rule 241 of Assam Excise Rule, 1945
Bihar Illegal

Section 19(4) of Bihar Excise (Amendment) Bill 2016

Chandigarh

25 Section 23 of Punjab Excise Act, 1914
Chhattisgarh 21

Section 23 of the Chhattisgarh Excise Act, 1915

 

Dadra and Nagar Haveli

21

Section 24 of the Dadra and Nagar Haveli Excise Regulation, 2012

 

Daman and Diu

21 Section 19 of the Goa, Daman and Diu Excise Duty Act & Rules 1964

 

Delhi

25

Section 23 of Delhi Excise Act, 2010

Delhi Liquor License Rules, 1976

Goa

21

Section 19 of the Goa Excise Duty Act and Rules, 1964

(Earlier 18 but according to the Amendment Act of 1976, the age has been increased to 21)

Gujarat

Illegal

Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949

 

Haryana

25

Section 29 of Punjab Excise Act, 1914

Himachal Pradesh

18

Rule XVI of the Himachal Pradesh Liquor License Rules, 1986

Jammu and Kashmir

21

Section 50 B of Jammu and Kashmir Excise Act, 1958

Rule XI of Jammu and Kashmir Liquor License and Sales Rules, 1984

Jharkhand

21

Section 54 of the Bihar & Orissa Excise Act, 1915

 

Karnataka

21 Karnataka Excise Department, 1967

 

Kerala

18

Section 15A & 15B of Abkari Act (1 of 1077)

Lakshadweep

Illegal

Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949

Madhya Pradesh

21

Section 23 of the Madhya Pradesh Excise Act, 1915

 

Maharashtra

21 (Beer and Wine)

25 (Hard Liquor)

Section 18 and Rule 70D of the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949

Manipur

Illegal (In some districts)

The Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act, 1991

 

Meghalaya

25

Eastern Bengal and Assam Act, 1910

 

Mizoram

18

Section 58 of Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Bill, 2014

 

Nagaland

Illegal Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act, 1989

 

Odisha 21

Section 61 of the Odisha Excise Act, 2005

Puducherry

18

Section 35 of the Pondicherry Excise Act, 1970

 

Punjab

25

Section 29 of Punjab Excise Act, 1914

Rajasthan

18

Section 22 of the Rajasthan Excise Act, 1950
Sikkim

18

Section 20 of the Sikkim Home Guards Bill, 1992

 

Tamil Nadu

21

Section 25 of Tamil Nadu Liquor (License and Permit) Rules, 1981

 

Telangana

21

Section 36 of Andhra Pradesh  Excise Act, 1968

Tripura

21

Section 53 of the Tripura Excise Act, 1987
Uttar Pradesh

21

Section 2 of the United Provinces Excise Act, 1910

(Earlier 18 but by the amendment in 1976 it was increased to 21)

 

Uttarakhand

21

Section 2 of the United Provinces Excise Act, 1910

 

West Bengal

21

Section 51 of the Bengal Excise Act, 1909

 

Analysis: Legal Drinking Age in the India States

The permitted legal drinking age varies from state to state and in some states, even the purchasing of alcohol and consumption of alcohol age is also different. These rules and regulations create confusion results difficulty in implementing the laws relating to the consumption of alcohol. In many states, the act was silent about either about the valid drinking age or purchasing age. In such a situation, for the purpose of convenience, it is assumed that both the age is the same.

  • Legal Drinking Age in Maharashtra

The legal age for consumption of alcohol (hard Liquor) is 25 and for purchasing the alcohol is 18.[1] The legal drinking age for wine and beer consumption is 21 and for other intoxicants or hard liquors, the legal age is 25. There are three districts in Maharashtra in which consumption and selling of alcohol have been totally banned i.e. Wardha district, Gadchiroli district, and Chandrapur district.

  • Legal Drinking Age in Karnataka

The legal drinking age in Karnataka as per Karnataka Excise Department, 1967 legal is 21, however as per Section 36 of the Karnataka Excise Act, 1965 legal age to purchase alcohol is 18 years.

  • Legal Drinking Age in Uttar Pradesh

Initially, the legal drinking age in Uttar Pradesh was 18 under the United Provisions Excise Act, 1910 but later it was changed by the amendment act, 1976 in UPA act and raised the drinking age 18 to 21.

Lists of Dry States In India

There are some states in which the sale and purchase of alcohol are completely banned, hence they are called “The Dry States”. The following states are known to be the Dry States-

  • Gujarat – The Bombay Prohibition Act was enforced after the demise of the Mahatma Gandhi in 1949 in Bombay state. After bifurcation in 1960, the Act was enforced in both states. However, Maharashtra issues licenses for distribution and sale of alcohol, but in Gujarat, the act is still in force. Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Act was enforced in 2009 which prohibits the manufacture, selling, buying or distributing of spurious liquor i.e. Laththa and makes it a punishable offence.
  • Bihar – Section 19 (4) of Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act 2016 has imposed a complete ban on selling and purchasing of alcohol in Bihar.
  • Nagaland
  • Lakshadweep
  • Manipur

Dry Days in India

Dry Days are the days when selling of alcohol is prohibited in every state and union territory of India regardless of different legislations. On the occasions of Republic Day (January 26), Independence Day (August 15) and Gandhi Jayanti (October 2), dry days are observed every year in India. Voting days are also observed as dry days. There are also other festivals and celebrations in India which are considered as Dry Days.

[1] Maharashtra Prohibition Act of 1949.

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