New Delhi, Dec 16: Delhi Assembly on Monday, Dec 14 passed Excise Bill 2009 with a modification allowing 21-year-olds to serve liquor at bars and hotels, while the minimum age to consume liquor has been put up to 25 years.
Congress MLA Rajesh Lilothia, who moved the amendment allowing 21-year-olds to serve liquor, contented that this would help youngsters get a job as most of them graduated by 21.
"This Act is aimed at containing hooch tragedies. Under the present Act, brewing illicit liquor and sale of hooch are all bailable offences. We propose to change this," AK Walia, Delhi's Finance Minister said responding to the Opposition's protests that the bill was encouraging drinking culture.
The Opposition's demand for referring the matter to a select committee for further deliberation was also denied.
Besides this, drinking in public will now attract a fine of Rs 5,000, up from the present Rs 200 fine.
The act also introduces stringent fines for owner of a liquor joint who allows drunken behaviour or anti-social elements to gather at the establishment.
Under this act, the owner could be slapped with prison term of up to six months and a fine of up to Rs 50,000.
All offences attracting a jail term of two years or more has been termed non-bailable by the Delhi Excise Bill 2009, which is based on the Model Excise Bill 2005.
The bill also makes provisions for incentives to informers, who help in getting spurious or smuggled liquor caught. Trucks carrying smuggled or spurious liquor would be impounded and auctioned after three months, Mr Walia added.