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Delhi HC quashes PIL challenging provision of minimum drinking age


ANI General News
The Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation challenging Section 23 of Delhi Excise Act, 2009, which prescribes 25 years as the legal age of drinking in the National Capital Territory.
"The current legal age of drinking is leading to discrimination against residents of National Capital Territory of Delhi as compared to citizens of India residing in different states where the legal age of drinking is less than 25 years," the petition stated.
A Division Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice C Harishankar while rejecting the plea, observed that the age of drinking has nothing to do with the imposition by the Delhi Excise Act.
"We see no reason to quash the provision which prohibits the licensee to sell or deliver alcohol to a person who is less than 25 years of age. The petitioner has presumed that the age of drinking has been prescribed but this is not the reason for quashing and setting aside Section 23 of Delhi Excise Act. It is a policy decision, that on what age the sale of alcohol should be prohibited," the bench observed while dismissing the plea.
The petition was filed by advocate Kush Kalra who contended that the legal drinking age in states like Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Goa is 21 years and in Rajasthan it is 18.
"The voting age is 18, the age to get a permanent driving licence is 18, legal marriage age is 18 and 21 years and the age of joining the Army is 18 but the Delhi government has not provided any rationale for keeping the legal age of drinking alcohol at 25," the petition stated.
Delhi government through a reply clearly stated that drinking age is a policy decision and minimum drinking age can't be judicially reviewed since it's a policy decision.
The plea termed the provisions of the Delhi Excise Act which prescribed the minimum drinking age 25, as "arbitrary and contrary to the fundamental right to equality".
The plea further claimed that two-thirds of alcohol drinkers below the age of 25 purchased alcohol from liquor vendors which didn't ask for age proof, which symbolises disrespect of the law.
Delhi government submitted that in view of health dangers of alcohol, the petition can't be seen in public interest since it seeks to encourage consumption of alcohol.
Citing the 30-year-old petitioner's age, the government sought rejection of the plea claiming that the petitioner had no locus standi and it was an instance of proxy litigation.
The petition also sought direction to Delhi government to conduct awareness programmes on responsible consumption of alcohol among college and school-going students by including it in their curriculum.

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First Published: Sep 26 2019 | 8:59 PM IST

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