Sunday, August 15, 2010

Defending the deadlines

Defending the deadlines
Jagadish Angadi

The 11.30 pm deadline for pubs and bars and the midnight deadline for restaurants might look out of place in a cosmopolitan City dreaming big...

But the City Police Commissioner, Shankar Bidari says he has merely implemented the provisions of the Karnataka State Excise Act of 1963. He is also ready with his counter arguments to justify the deadlines.

The Act, he points out, only specifies stoppage of liquor sale beyond the deadline. “There is no bar on consumption of liquor and having food late in the night at houses,” he explains.

Bidari does not agree that the Act infringes upon personal freedom. “Such restrictions are imposed after duly considering pros and cons. The deadline was fixed to check the crime rate during nights. The Act only bans the sale of liquor at public places, including pubs, bars and restaurants. Those who wish to enjoy personal freedom can always do so at their houses. No one will restrict them as long as it does not affect the privacy of other citizens”.

Interestingly, many of Bidari’s predecessors had not implemented the rule strictly. This led to the sale and consumption of liquor at bar till late night. “I have only implemented the rule strictly. Many who were not aware of the Act thought the City police had introduced the deadline,” he clarifies.

But despite the deadline, there are a few bars which flout the rules. Bidari admits it. “I know it happens as there is a unholy nexus between local police officers and bar owners. We have received many complaints from the public. We have taken action against hundreds including police inspectors, sub inspectors, ASIs and bar owners for violating the rule. I have suspended a few officials for allowing the bars owners to operate beyond the deadline,” he says.

Bidari sees no need to extend the present deadline. Reasons the Commissioner: The City police have received innumerable requisitions to stop operations of bars as early as possible. Many of the bars are located in residential areas. If they are allowed to operate beyond 11.30, it only triggers huge noise pollution due to vehicular movement, increase in drunken driving cases and law and order problems as people may do anything under the influence of alcohol.

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