Parliament passed a bill, which sought to transfer the control over industries producing potable alcohol from the central government to the state governments, with the Rajya Sabha giving its nod to the legislation.
The Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015, amending the 1951 act, had already been passed by the Lok Sabha in December last year.
Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the amendment would bring potable alcohol under the jurisdiction of states, and clearly demarcates what is within the powers of the centre and what is within the powers of states.
The 1951 act provides for development and regulation of certain industries including fermentation (which includes production of alcohol), and its first schedule includes all industries that are regulated under the act. The bill amends the schedule to exclude production of alcohol for potable purposes from the ambit of the act.
The Supreme Court in its judgement on January 20, 1997, had demarcated the regulation of production of alcohol between the central and state governments in the case of Bihar Distillery and another vs. Union of India and others.
The court ruled that central government should regulate the production of alcohol for industrial use and states should regulate the production of alcohol for potable purpose (domestic consumption).
The bill conforms to the Supreme Court’s decision.
“This is something which the Supreme Court had broadly indicated in its judgement in 1997,” Sitharaman said.