HC raps Punjab for skipping liquor high quality check

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23

Punjab has little reason to say cheers as far as its investigations into spurious liquor are concerned with the Punjab and Haryana High Court finding that the state was skipping “qualitative tests” to detect whether the liquor flowing in was fit for consumption.

Taking a serious view of the omission, Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan has directed the state Director General of Police and the Home Secretary to file affidavits on providing adequate set-up for conducting both quantitative and qualitative tests. Justice Sangwan also made it clear that the police and excise departments were duty-bound to get both quantitative and qualitative tests conducted to find out the contents. If an accused sold spurious liquor in the market after marking it as branded, it could not be said that a direction by the court, the police department or the excise department was required. The assertion came more than three months after more than 100 people died after consuming spurious liquor in Punjab.

Justice Sangwan asserted qualitative tests were performed by laboratories through systematic analysis to identify the contents of the samples for determining whether it was unfit for human consumption.

Quantitative analysis, on the other hand, was carried out to determine the “absolute or relative substance” present in a sample for finding out the percentage of alcohol/ethyl alcohol. In case of spurious liquor, high percentage of ethyl alcohol could be dangerous.

Justice Sangwan added that the SC issued guidelines to the states specifically directing the governments to establish forensic science labs for conducing the quantitative and qualitative tests.

“However, it seems that Punjab is not conducting both the tests as and when the samples of liquor, whether spurious or from distilleries of a different state not meant for sale in Punjab, are recovered. An accused can misuse the branding by filling spurious liquor to sell it, leading to hooch tragedy,” Justice Sangwan asserted.

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