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Plea in HC for lower drinking age in Delhi

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NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Friday agreed to examine a plea questioning the current legal age of drinkingand buying alcohol, fixed at 25 years as per law.
HC sought the response from the AAP government on the PIL that seeks quashing of a provision in the Delhi Excise Act, which prescribes 25 years as the minimum legal age for buying and drinking alcohol.

A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued a notice to the excise department of the government on the plea, which compared the legal age fixed in Delhi with lower drinking age prevalent in other states. “A person coming to Delhi from a state which legalises drinking at 18 years is likely to continue consuming alcohol, thus criminalising his/her behaviour. On the other hand young persons from Delhi traveling to states which have lower legal ages to consume alcohol raises the question how a person by moving his/her location becomes responsible,” the plea said.

The court posted the matter for next hearing in October. The PIL filed by lawyer Kush Kalra has sought quashing of Section 23 of Delhi Excise Act, 2009 which prescribes 25 years as the legal age of drinking in Delhi.

The plea has also sought to know what steps the government has taken towards prohibiting and regulating the sale and supply of alcohol to persons under 25 years of age in the National Capital Territory, arguing that the authorities are unable to enforce the legal age.

Kalra informed the court that while the legal age for drinking in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Telangana and Jharkhand was 21, in Rajasthan and Puducherry it was 18 years. He also contended that according to reports about 67% of the population in the age group of 18-25 years purchased alcohol from liquor vends but are never asked for any age proof.

The PIL has sought directions to the Delhi government to conduct awareness programmes on responsible consumption of alcohol among college and school students by including it in the curriculum rather than enforcing a legal age that can’t be enforced.

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