Lose Job if You Drink Alcohol even when Outside the Country?

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Patna: Continuing to tighten the screw on those still unwilling to give up their drinking habit, the Nitish administration on Wednesday made it criminal for any government official to drink alcoholic beverage even when they are outside Bihar.

At the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tweaked the existing prohibition law by banning drinking by government officials even when they are outside Bihar and added judiciary in the list so legal proceedings could be taken against the legal fraternity if they were found or reported to be under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicant.

Talking to the media, Principal Secretary (Cabinet) Brajesh Mehrotra said that as per the new rule, no judicial officer or state government official will be allowed to consume alcohol or engage in any other kind of intoxicant when they are outside Bihar. "Departmental actions will now be taken against judicial officers and the state employees if they are found or reported to be violating provisions of the existing prohibition policy," he said.

Confusion, however, prevailed after the latest prohibition announcement as some in the media reported that the new rules were applicable only in states like Gujarat, Nagaland, and Kerala where prohibition was already in place and not in states where liquor was sold and consumed freely.

Others, on the other hand, reported that the new law applied to Bihar government officials and members of the judiciary all the time at all places even when out of country.

"A government officer or a member of the judiciary could be taking a well-deserved vacation in Caribbean with a glass of drink in his hand to get a reprieve from his daily life but if the government somehow finds out about it, he or she could be facing departmental proceedings that could very well mean losing the job," a senior government officials said on the condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, it was not clear how the government proposed to keep a tab on those who chose to drink while being outside Bihar.

Mehrotra tried to assuage those who questioned the practicality and rationale of the new rule saying action would be taken against officials or the member of the judiciary only if a complaint were filed against them.

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