India

Pulled up over pending liquor cases, Bihar seeks HC nod to set up special courts, new judge posts

Pulled up over pending liquor cases, Bihar seeks HC nod to set up special courts, new judge posts

A day after the Patna High Court pulled up the Bihar government for the pendency of about 2 lakh liquor law cases, the state government on Friday sought the court’s permission to set up special courts and create posts of new judges to deal with cases under Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016. The government was responding to the court’s question as to how it can hear such a large number of liquor cases. More than 40,000 bail pleas are pending in the HC alone.

The division bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh directed the chief secretary to file a detailed response to its other queries, and asked Advocate General Lalit Kishore — representing the government — to ask the chief secretary to appear on December 4 to file a counter-affidavit. Kishore later said they had sought administrative clearance from the high court to set up special courts.

On Thursday, the bench had wondered if innocent people were being framed under the Act, as 90 per cent of the accused managed to get bail. The bench was hearing a matter related to an August 21 order by a single-judge bench of Justice Anil Kumar Upadhyay in which he raised concern over the huge pendency of liquor cases. The order had cited district-wise figures of pendency.

Overall, 2,07,766 liquor cases were pending in all Bihar courts as on July 8, 2019.

Justice Upadhyay in his order had said: “The figure of pendency indicates that it has reached alarming proportion and in the absence of adequate court, judicial officers and support staff, the case management is impossible.”

Kishore told The Indian Express: “We have told the court that we have already applied for opening 74 special courts. We also told the court that once special courts are set up, we will push for speedy trial of liquor cases.. The chief secretary has been asked to file a counter-affidavit on details of infrastructure and other queries of the court.”