A Teetotaller’s Oath for Officers
The Nitish government gets its employees to take an oath to stay off liquor. Will it pay off?
Ido solemnly swear I will never consume liquor in my lifetime. I shall be liable for stern action if I am ever found involved in any activity involving liquor,” reads the oath Bihar government’s over 0.5 million employees were made to take in the last week of July.
Notwithstanding the declared purpose of raising awareness against liquor consumption, the move hints at the Nitish Kumar government’s dissatisfaction with the administration’s efforts to enforce total prohibition (introduced in the state in April 2016).
Bihar softened its prohibition laws in July 2018 and since then, firsttime offenders of liquor consumption can walk free after paying a penalty of Rs 50,000.
While this option may still be available to the
state’s government employees, their oath and written declaration are expected to make it difficult for them to break prohibition laws. Also, the oath expands the scope of their complicity as they face prosecution for doing anything related to liquor.
The oath format was sent to all principal secretaries and departmental heads by state excise commissioner B. Kartikey Dhanji. They were asked to ensure compliance by all staff. Total prohibition was a promise Nitish Kumar made in the runup to the 2015 assembly election. Since then, some 116,670 cases have been lodged at various police stations under the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, and 161,415 arrests made. Between January and March this year,
FALLING IN LINE Patna DM Kumar Ravi takes oath with officials at the Collectorate