Aizawl: The Election Commission has instructed the Mizo National Front (MNF) led Mizoram government to put its proposed prohibition law on hold till the Lok Sabha election process is over.
The Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition) Bill, 2019, which was passed by the state legislature on March 20, sought to bring back total prohibition on sales of alcohol in the state four years after “The Mizoram Liquor (Prohibiton & Control) Act, 2014, which allowed opening of wine shops, was enforced in the tribal state.
With the governor giving his assent to the bill, the state government was planning to enforce the liquor act from April 1.
The Election Commission’s letter issued on Thursday was forwarded to the Commissioner and Secretary of Mizoram excise and narcotics department by the state Additional Chief Electoral Officer Krishna Mohan Uppu on Friday.
The letter directs the state government not to notify the prohibition law till the completion of Lok Sabha election on May 27.
The letter was issued in view of the model code of conduct in respect of the ensuing parliamentary polls.
The ruling MNF had promised before state assembly elections last year that it will bring back total prohibition in the state, if voted back to power. Soon after assuming power in December, the MNF government headed by Chief Minister Zoramthanga had banned the sale of alcohol by declaring a long spell of dry days from December 21, 2018 to January 14. This was extended again till March 10.
However, the dry days order was quashed by the Guahati High Court after it being challenged by liquor vendors and warehouse dealers, who were allowed to continue with their sale.
Being hell bent towards prohibition, the government then passed “The Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition) Bill, 2019” during its session on March 20.
The government had earlier instructed liquor vendors and warehouse owner to dispose their stock on or before March 31 as prohibition law will be imposed from April 1.
Though the EC has instructed the state government to put on hold its liquor law, Mizoram will become a dry state from April as license of liquor vendors will expire on March 31.
Total prohibition was in placed in the state for about 18 years between 1997 and January, 2015. The erstwhile Congress government led by Lal Thanhawla passed the MLPC Act, 2014 in January, 2015 and the first wine shop was opened in the state in March that year.