On April 1, 2016, CM Nitish Kumar declared Bihar a dry state, following in the footsteps of Gujarat, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Lakshadweep. The CM enforced a five-year jail term even for first-time offenders before amending the rule in 2018 to introduce a fine for first-time offenders.
Though the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows a decline in cases of domestic abuse usually fuelled by alcohol consumption , prohibition has had unintended consequences: A parallel of illicit liquor trade is flourishing in Bihar, even as the state is losing out on revenue from alcohol sales. Bootleggers are selling alcohol at a higher price, pushing the poor towards cheap drugs and hooch. The police crackdown on prohibition violators has also affected the marginalised sections of the society disproportionately.
The change had other costs.
In 2014-15, Bihar made over Rs 3,100 crore from the sale of liquor through excise duty, according to the Economic Survey of 2016. The budgeted estimate for 2015-16 was Rs 4,000 crore, as per the survey. Since then, the state has been losing out on all potential revenue from alcohol sales.
But in Bihar, cases of domestic violence under Section 498A of the IPC (cruelty by the husband or his relatives) fell 37% since the liquor ban, while the crime rate — or cases per 100,000 women — fell 45%. Countrywide, cases rose 12% and the crime rate rose 3%.