Bollywood actor Imran Khan today filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court challenging Maharashtra government's decision raising the legal age limit for consuming alcohol from 21 to 25 years.
"By this PIL I am not promoting drinking but fighting for the constitutional right of youths in India. When a 21-year-old is allowed to marry, vote and do several other things then he or she should also be allowed to indulge in any legal activity including consumption of liquor," Imran told reporters after filing the Public Interest Litigation.
The Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Delhi Belly star said the state government's action infringed on the fundamental rights of a citizen living in a democratic country.
"If the government has not banned sale of liquor then anyone above the age of 21 should have the choice of consuming it. A major can decide for himself what is right and wrong," the actor, clad in a light blue striped shirt, flanked by his lawyer Ameet Naik and brother-in-law Vedant Malik, said.
The actor, nephew of super star Aamir Khan, lamented that the youth were always considered irresponsible in the country.
"There are several issues we are facing in our country. But this issue (alcohol age limit) is something I personally feel about. In my youth even I have consumed alcohol but responsibly," Imran said.
The actor's lawyer Ameet Naik said the PIL would come up for hearing in due course.
The PIL contended that the Government sought to impinge on the right of equality and personal liberty of the youth who are otherwise vested with the right to vote, marry, serve in military, drive vehicles and enter into legal contracts.
The PIL, jointly filed by Imran and his brother-in-law Vedant Malik, argued that the legal drinking ages worldwide are usually 18 to 21. Incidentally, Maharashtra's and Delhi's drinking age limit of 25 is among the highest in the world, except for Maharashtra's Wardha district where it is 30 years.
The PIL said that the petitioners learnt that the drinking age limit of 25 was actually in force since September 6, 2005, but was not being implemented. "Hence they were under a bonafide belief that the age limit to apply for liquor permit was 21 years and not 25".
The petitioners then read newspaper reports which said that the state Government had on June 1 this year introduced a de-addiction policy which said that legal drinking age of hard liquor was 25 and mild beer 21, the PIL said.
The petitioners then decided to challenge the higher drinking age and asked the concerned department and the Excise Commissioner for the policy. "They learnt that the policy was at a nascent stage of discussion and yet to be implemented."
The petitioners said they sought information through RTI which revealed that the 2005 notification on age limit for drinking was the last one issued by the Government and that the prescribed legal age limit for this purpose was 25 years.
Terming the impugned notification as "unconstitutional, arbitrary and unreasonable", the PIL argued that it sought to impose unjust restriction on youths in the age group 18 to 21.
Raising the age limit from 21 to 25 years would only increase a desire for the "forbidden fruit" among the youths which would make them drink illegally, seek other intoxicants and encourage bootlegging", the PIL argued.
The PIL has named Maharashtra Government and Commissioner of Excise as respondents.
Imran Khan Files PIL Against Age Limit for Having Liquor
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