Drunk and driving, reduction of minimum age for drinking are not connected: Delhi govt tells HC

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Representative Image
Representative Image

New Delhi [India], August 24 (ANI): The Delhi Government on Tuesday told the High Court that there is no connection between drunken driving offences and its decision to reduce the minimum age for drinking alcohol.

"Drunken driving is not permissible in law. So whether the minimum age is 21 or 25, it doesn't matter," Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for Delhi Government said.

A petition has been filed in Delhi High court, months after the Delhi government has reduced the age of drinking from 25 to 21 years. The court asked Delhi government to reply to the plea.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Delhi Government also said the government is not permitting drunken driving and no one supports drunken driving there are strict laws to control it. He also pointed out that age has nothing to do with it. He also said that permitting people to drink does not mean that one is permitting drunken driving.

The submissions of Lawyers came on Tuesday during the hearing of a plea challenging reduction of the minimum age to consume alcohol from 25 to 21 years.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on Tuesday sought response from Delhi Government and other respondents and slated the matter for September 17.

The court was hearing a fresh plea filed by Community against Drunken Driving through advocate Prasanna S. The petitioner has sought to restrain the Government of NCT of Delhi from giving effect to the recent Excise Policy, 2021-2022 which reduces the drinking age from 25 to 21 until a robust age verification mechanism is instituted.

The petitioner sought to issue direction to the Government of NCT of Delhi to put in place a robust mechanism for the enforcement of mandatory age check of underage drinking at liquor shops, pubs, bars and restaurants via biometrics age match using government-issued identity cards of the nature as suggested such as Aadhaar card and Election Identity card.

It also sought to restrain the Government of NCT of Delhi from giving effect to the recent amendment made in the Excise Rules 28, 2010, which permit the door delivery of liquor until a robust age verification mechanism is instituted even for door delivery.

"As the initiator of the campaign against the drunken driving movement in 2001, I have often been outraged on several occasions during the last 21 years at how easily school and college students as young as 13-14 years can procure and consume alcohol," he said.

In 2017 we had filed a PIL in Delhi High Court seeking mandatory age check at alcohol points of sale as a result of which the Hon. HC had asked the Delhi Government to form a policy mandatory age check at alcohol points of sale. However, the government failed to take action even after several petitions and white papers submitted them on this issue, including documents submitted to the Chief Minister," said Prince Singhal, Founder of Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD).

Earlier, a similar plea was filed by NGO All India Bhrashtachar Virodhi Morcha through advocate Vijay Sharma. According to the petitioner, the new excise policy lowers the minimum age for consumption of alcohol to 21 years, which was, earlier, 25 years. (ANI)

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