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No Drinking Age Bar at City Pubs!


Bengaluru: If you are under 18 years and want to go pub hoping in the city, you freely can.

At nightspots such as Church Street, MG Road, Brigade Road, Indiranagar and Koramangala, it’s not uncommon to see ‘minors’ ente-ring bars without anyone asking them for proof of age, as required under law.

The legal age for drinking in Bengaluru is 18 or 21, depending on which excise department official you ask.

Victor Sagayaraj, who waits tables at a popular pub on Church Street, said many youngsters drop in for a drink unchecked. “We have not been instructed to check their ID cards or ages. The numbers have gone up since the summer vacations started,” he said.

Excise Commissioner Umashankar SR had said last year that his department would conduct raids and suspend the licences of bars and pubs found serving liquor to minors. By his own admission, that hasn’t happened.

“We have not yet conducted any raids or filed any cases against bar and pub owners,” he told ET recently. “We will be doing that soon” and the licences of offenders will be cancelled, he said.

As per a recent amendment to the Juvenile Justice Bill 2015, sale of liquor to minors is a criminal offence punishable with a seven-year jail term. Last year, Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrashekar had written to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah about some upscale pubs and bars in the central business district serving liquor to school children. Based on that, the government issued a warning in July 2015.

Riyaaz Amlani, who also heads the National Restaurant Association of India, insisted that pubs and bars affiliated to the association prominently dis-play sign boards stating that liquor will not be served to those under 21 years age.

That age limit, which Amla-ni said was high, is the result of a lack of clarity within the excise department.

“It will be good if the state government lowers the age cap,” said Amlani, chief executive of Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality that owns several pubs and restaurants in city including Social and Smokehouse Deli.

Well, the excise commission-er says the age cap is 18 years.


Meanwhile, there is confusion within the excise department on the legal age for drinking in Bengaluru.

The excise commissioner says it is 18 and the deputy commissioner of excise (legal) says it is 21.

Commissioner Umashankar SR said the department last year raised the drinking age from 18 years to 21 under the Karnataka Excise Licenses (General Conditions) Rules, 1967 through a circular but the change does not reflect yet in the Karnataka Excise Depart-ment Act, 1965.

“We had instructed to all the bar and pub owners not to al-low children below the age of 21 but till an amendment (is carried out to the Excise De-partment Act), the age re-mains 18,” he said.

Chandrashekar N, deputy commissioner of excise (legal), however, insisted that the legal age for drinking is 21 in Karnataka, citing the circular that was issued last year to res-taurants and pubs in the city.

KV Dhananjay, a Supreme Court advocate, said the Karnataka Excise Department Act of 1965 is the parent law in Karnataka and it says that persons under 18 years should not be served alcohol. The Karnataka Excise Licenses Rules, 1967 is a subsidiary law that should remain faithful to the parent law but does not, he said.

“These rules which were made by the executive state that the minimum (drinking) age will be 21 years of age. This enhancement is illegal. Such an enhancement can only be made by the legislature and it was never called upon to do.”

Source: Economic Times
(Photo: datinginindia.wordpress.com)

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