LIQUOR LAWS AND LICENSING IN INDIA
Author: Vydurya Selvi B
All of us have come across “Don’t Drink and Drive” sign in and around the place we live. Is that a rule or just a public welfare sign? They are rules to avoid deaths and criminal activities and to protect people and property. Liquor drinking is therefore associated with society and should be considered as a socio-legal issue. Alcohol can be sold only when a person has a license to sell. Even if a person wants to give away alcohol for free, he has to have a license to do so. This article will briefly explain the liquor laws and the licensing procedure in India.Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, one market which never slipped from its peak and had no hindrance is the liquor business. The profits made by this business are huge. There are rules and regulations, for selling liquor, only when followed allows market entry. The Licensing Act 2003 states that one needs a permit to sell alcohol and related beverages in India. This permit not only restricts the sellers but also regulates the consumer. Our country bars certain aged to drink. Only adults are allowed to drink, each State has its own rules. There are many variants in the licenses given by the Excise Department.
A license granted by the State Excise Department to those who want to sell and distribute alcoholic beverages or drinks at a particular place is called a liquor license. Any person who wants to sell beverages in hotels, motels, restaurants, pubs, or bars – should have a license and follow the rules given by State. It is also mandatory to have a license, even for online sales of liquor. The absence of a license sounds illegal and prohibited by the law.
Liquor is consumable, which makes those who buy ‘consumers. It should be noted that there are consumers as well as buyers(not consumers). Every state has its own set of rules and regulations. There is no uniformity in the laws.The Centre, State, and District can make their laws. Ban on alcohol can also be implemented. This table shows the minimum drinking age in various States -
States and Age
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Jammu and Kashmir
Sikkim -18 years
Jharkhand - 21 years
Maharashtra (only for beer, hard liquor can be used only after 25 years)
West Bengal - 21 years
Kerala - 23 years
Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Daman and Diu
Maharashtra - 25 years
Lakshadweep (only in the resort of Bangaram)
Manipur (partial prohibition since 2002)
Nagaland - Banned
In Gujarat, non-residents can apply for limited liquor permits. Home delivery of alcoholic beverages is illegal in Delhi, whereas it allows the delivery of beer and wine by private agencies and departmental stores. Arrack is completely banned in India.
The liquor license is a must for any establishment which serves alcohol, whether it is a bar, a hotel, or a restaurant. Manufacturing, sales, registration, acquiring license, ban, all are regulated by the Seventh Schedule of the State List of the Indian Constitution. Taxation on liquor is also different in different States.The following are acts passed by various governments for regulating liquor consumption and related activities.
1. Bengal Excise Act of 1909
2. Uttar Pradesh Excise Act, 1910
3. Punjab Excise Act, 1914
4. Article 47 of the Constitution 1948
5. Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949
6. Goa Excise Duty Act, 1964
7. Karnataka Excise Act, 1965
8. Tamil Nadu Liquor Rules, 1981
9. Licensing Act 2003
10. Delhi Excise Act, 2009 and Excise Rules, 2010
In the Motor Vehicle Act, the Union Cabinet made changes concerning the accidents caused by alcoholics. Fine was increased from Rs.2,000 to Rs.10,000 and imprisonment term was increased from 6 months to 4 years. The penalties were based on the alcohol content in the blood of the accused. The legal limit of the alcohol content is 0.03% 0r 30 mg alcohol in 100 ml of blood.
Liquor drinking or sale is prohibited on particular days in Indiacalled the Dry Days. Republic Day (January 26), Independence Day (August 15), and Gandhi Jayanthi (October 2) are observed as dry days. Some states also observe specific dates as dry days.
Procedure and Types of Licenses
The State Excise Department grants liquor licenses. The rules and guidelinescan be checked on the official website of the State. An application along with all the details – name, place of sale/manufacturing, type of alcohol, quantity, etc., should be filled.An applicant should be above 21 years of age. An Excise officer will inspect the related documents and the placeand submits a report to the higher liquor permit granting authorities. On satisfaction, a public notice is issued for public opinion. In case of nil objections, the person pays the fee and the license is granted. The fee chargedvaries with states, it depends on the type of license, period of validity, and the size and nature of the business. Fee may range from Rs.5,000 to Rs.15,000. The process does not end here; the period of validity of the license should be checked and renewed accordingly.
The Procedure for acquiring a liquor license is the same in the case of all alcoholic beverages, but there are separate licenses for each category of alcoholic beverages. Types are -
1. Beer and Wine Liquor License – For mild liquor (beer and wine), hard liquor cannot be sold
2. Brewpub Liquor License -Only when they brew their wine and beer
3. Restaurant Liquor License –For restaurants that have 40% less profit in sales of liquor
4. Tavern Liquor License – For those who get more than half of the profits from liquor
5. Temporary License – To serve at a party or event in a town with less than 20 lakh people
6. L-1 License – Manufacturing and wholesale supply of Indian liquor
7. L-3/L-5 – L-3 is foreign liquor for hotel residents. L-5 is for bars on hotel premises
8. L-6 – Retail vendors of Beers and Indian Liquor
9. L-19 – Club registered to serve foreign liquor
10. L-49 – Permit to any person for serving liquor at specific premises
11. FL-4 – License to serve at a private party, resort, or apartment
Other licenses include P-13, P-10, L-11, L-12, L-15, L-16, L-18, L-19, L-20, L-21, L-28, L-29, L-30.
Alcohol is not only injurious to an individual but also to society. The Government is trying to control and mandate its people through various liquor laws. Amendments are also made in the provisions. Every individual has to avoid drinks. Self-discipline and health consciousness are essential to make the lifetime of a person on earth pleasant. The country should bring strict laws and punishments for those violating the laws. The unlicensed dealers, banned drugs should be completely brought under control and the government should punish accordingly those who indulge in these acts, which disturbs the peace and prosperity of the country.
 Guide for obtaining a license in India - https://yourstory.com/mystory/ultimate-guide-obtaining-liquor-license-india/amp
 Getting a liquor permit in India - https://limetray.com/blog/getting-a-liquor-permit-india/ B. Vydurya Selvi, 4th B.B.A., L.LB(Hons.), SASTRA Deemed to be University, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. e-mail- firstname.lastname@example.org