Alcohol and Legal Age

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Image from https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2020/increased-drinking-among-65plus.html

This article is written by Aryan Pujari a first year student of Amity Law School, Raipur, Chattisgarh

“We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can always build our youth for the future.”-Franklin D. Roosevelt

  • Alcohol – Addiction at the cost of life-

It’s a universal believe that “Today’s youth is tomorrows future” but the scene at the back stage is kind of different. Alcohol and its addiction ultimately turned the above mentioned phrase into a sarcasm, banter or burlesque, which raises the demand of laws mandating legal age for buying, selling or consuming alcohol. There is uncountable number of lives that has been crushed under the addiction. There are huge sets of laws dealing with legal age to buy, sell or drink it but the problem lies with the uniformity in these laws as it differs from state to state. It is because excise falls under 7th schedule of Constitution of India which means under state list and hence state may twist it the way it want.

Manufacture and sale of liquor is one of the major sources of their revenue, and the reopening comes at a time when the states have been struggling to fill their coffers amid the disruption on account of the lock-down”[1], This shows the absolute power of state upon the subject of excise even in a health emergency running in the veins of nation.

  • Alcohol Regulations Under Constitution of India-

There are fewer guidelines and regulations enshrined in Constitution of India which guide the states on this subject-

  • Article 47 of The Constitution of Indiais one of the Directive Principles which directs the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall Endeavor to bring about prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health[2].

This article implies a guideline and not a restriction on the state, the phrase shall Endeavor” convey the same per-se. 

 

  • Alcohol and Legal age-

Not individual of all ages are allowed to buy, sell or consume alcohol and it significantly differ from state to state, few of these are mentioned below-

In the state of Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Karnataka, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Pondicherry the legal age of drinking is 18, following the state of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra (only beer), Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Orissa, Tamil Nadu has 21 years and in Punjab, Meghalaya, Haryana, Maharashtra (hard liquor), Chandigarh and Delhi, the minimum age specified is 25. There are few states, where the consumption of alcohol is illegal. They are Gujarat, Manipur, Nagaland and Lakshadweep.

In state like Bihar, Lakshadweep, Mizoram and Nagaland liquor is completely banned since distinct times.

State/Union Territory Age limit
Andaman & Nicobar Islands 21
Andhra Pradesh 21
Arunachal Pradesh 21
Assam 25
Bihar Illegal (Total ban)
Chandigarh 25
Chhattisgarh 21
Daman and Diu 25
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 25
Delhi 25
Goa 18
Gujarat Illegal (Total ban)
Haryana 25
Himachal Pradesh 18
Jammu and Kashmir 18
Jharkhand 21
Karnataka 21
Kerala 23
Lakshadweep Illegal (except island of Bangaram)
Madhya Pradesh 21
Maharashtra 18 for Wine
21 for Beer
25 for Others
Manipur Illegal (Partial ban)
Meghalaya 21
Mizoram 21
Nagaland Illegal
Odisha 21
Puducherry 18
Punjab 25
Rajasthan 18
Sikkim 18
Tamil Nadu 21
Telangana 21
Tripura 21
Uttar Pradesh 21
Uttarakhand 21
West Bengal 21[3]
  • Facts and figures of teenagers indulged consumption of alcohol-

The western loyalty has ended up making a huge mass of Indian teen indulged into alcohol consumption. Parents have accepted the radical meaning of “being a friend”, and its major reason accelerating the numbers.[4]

  • Studies have shown that the most influential role models for children are their parents and careers. Children learn by imitation, so it is important that you demonstrate sensible drinking behaviors.

Suggestions include:

  1. Drink moderately or not at all.
  2. Don’t drink every time you socialize.
  3. Never drink and drive[5].

Example- in Delhi, Kunal*, a student of Class 9 mixed vodka in water and brought it to the school. Not only was he drinking it inside the classroom but was also sharing it with his friends. However, he was caught on his way home in the school bus and his parents were called. His mother blatantly refused to believe that her child would indulge in drinking.[6]

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 30 per cent of India’s population consumes alcohol regularly. The percentage of under-15 boys who have not had alcohol has gone down from 44 per cent to 30 per cent and for girls it has decreased from 50 percent to 31

per cent, reveals another study done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)[7].

  • Around 75 percent of youth in India recorded by a multi city survey, consume alcohol before age of 21.It was presented before Narcotic Bureau of India.(NCB)[8]
  • Minimum drinking age in international scenario-
  1. ASIA- Our neighboring country allows alcohol for the group of people above 24 , China allows group above 18 so does Singapore, In Japan and South Korea, the minimum age to drink is 20 and 19 years respectively. In Pakistan, only non-Muslims over the age of 21 can drink. Drinking in most other Islamic countries in Asia is banned.
  2. AFRICA- All most all African state except Sudan and Egypt restrict people below 18.
  3. LATIN AMERICA, OCEANIA, EUROPE –Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia fix legal drinking age at 18.
  • In Austria, Belgium, Germany,[18] the Netherlands, and Switzerland, a purchaser of beer or wine must be 16 years of age, and 18 years for spirits.
  • Germany’s law is directed toward sellers of alcoholic beverages, not toward minors. German law vests control of the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the hands of parents and guardians.
  • In Italy and Portugal, 16 year old can buy and drink or work in a place selling alcohol.
  • In the Scandinavian countries (except for Denmark), the legal drinking age is 18 years, but these rights are limited up to the age of 20.
  • In Iceland and Sweden, purchasers and possessors of alcoholic beverages must be 20 years of age, although 18 and 19 year olds are allowed to drink alcohol….[9]
  • SUGGESTION-
  1. Laws for purchase sell or should be either uniform or states must be clustered based on geographical zones so as to reduce complexity and relaxation.
  2. The minimum legal as for any of the above mentioned factor should be 22 because Indians below this age group either are students or fresh graduates and addiction of alcohol ruin their careers and overlap their families with financial crisis.
  3. The district magistrate should be given with a power to institute an undercover agency to trace and trap liquor shops which are selling liquor to individual below prescribed age group.

 References: 

[1] AVAILABLE AT<https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-why-states-are-so-keen-about-excise-duty-on-liquor-6393643/>

[2] AVAILABLE AT<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_47_of_the_Constitution_of_India>

[3] AVAILABLE AT<https://lawrato.com/indian-kanoon/criminal-law/liquor-and-alcohol-drinking-laws-in-india-age-punishmen>

[4] AVAILABLE AT<https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-is-the-future-sloshed-2291610>

[5] AVAILABLE AT<https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/alcohol-teenagers>

[6] SOURCE-DNA, Updated: Jan 12, 2017, 08:00 AM

[7] AVAILABLE AT<https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-is-the-future-sloshed-2291610>

[8] AVAILABLE AT<https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/75-youths-consume-alcohol-before-turning-21-claims-survey/articleshow/71334772.cms>

[9]AVAILABLE AT< https://www.news18.com/news/india/drink-at-18-in-lucknow-25-in-mumbai-16-in-rome-372831.html>

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