ANALYZING THE INTERACTION BETWEEN RIGHT TO PRIVACY AND DRINKING LAWS IN INDIA
AUTHORED BY - HETAVI BARI
Right to privacy
The right to privacy is a fundamental human right that recognizes the importance of individuals keeping their personal information confidential and allowing them the autonomy to control what parts of their lives are shared with others. In India, this right is enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”. Article 21 of the Indian constitution protects the life and personal liberty of a person except for any procedure established by law. In the Justice K. S. Puttuswamy judgement, it was ruled right to privacy is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Before this, privacy was protected through various statutes such as the Indian Penal Code, the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the Right to Information Act, 2005. The concept of privacy was also recognized in various judicial decisions, including the famous case of Gobind vs. State of Madhya Pradesh (1975) where the Supreme Court recognized that the right to privacy is an essential ingredient of personal liberty. The recognition of the right to privacy as a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution has far-reaching implications for various aspects of Indian society, including government surveillance, data protection, and personal autonomy. It has also led to the development of new laws and regulations aimed at protecting individual privacy rights, such as the Personal Data Protection Bill, which is currently under consideration by the Indian parliament.
Right to consume Alcohol
The Right to Consume Alcohol in India refers to an individual's freedom from government interference when consuming alcoholic beverages. This includes laws prohibiting consumption, sale and manufacture as well as restrictions on places where alcohol can be consumed or purchased. While some states have imposed prohibition laws due to moral concerns, many argue these laws infringe upon citizens' rights under Article 19 (g), which grants all citizens the right "to practice any profession, or carry on any occupation, trade or business". he right to consume alcohol is not explicitly mentioned as a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution. However, it is a subject on which both the central government and state governments have jurisdiction.
The laws governing the consumption of alcohol in India are complex and vary from state to state. Some states have completely banned the sale and consumption of alcohol, while others allow it subject to certain restrictions. The legal drinking age also varies from state to state, with some states allowing it at 18 and others at 21.
The laws related to alcohol in India are primarily governed by state-level legislation such as the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 and the Bihar Excise Act, 2016. The central government also has legislation in place such as the Central Excise Act, 1944 and the Customs Act, 1962 which regulate the production and sale of alcohol.
The right to privacy and drinking laws in India are two complex legal issues that have the potential to intersect in various ways. On the one hand, the right to privacy is a fundamental right enshrined in the Indian Constitution, which protects an individual's personal autonomy and liberty. On the other hand, the government of India has implemented various laws and regulations that restrict the consumption of alcohol, with the aim of promoting public health and safety.
HISTORY OF THE LAWS GOVERNING RIGHT TO PRIVACY AND RIGHT TO CONSUME ALCOHOL IN INDIA
India’s pre-Independence laws regarding the right to privacy and the right to consume alcohol were heavily influenced by British colonial rule. In particular, many of these laws imposed severe restrictions on both rights as part of a larger effort to control Indian citizens. For example, in 1802, Lord Cornwallis issued an edict prohibiting Indians from “entertaining or keeping any intoxicant liquor at their houses”; this law was later extended in 1826 by Governor General Hastings to prohibit even consumption of alcohol outside one’s home.
India's post-independence Constitution has made strides towards protecting rights such as freedom of speech and personal liberty. However, when it comes to privacy and alcohol consumption there is still much debate over how far these constitutional protections should extend. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that Article 21 does not guarantee absolute protection for private information (such as phone records) or for individuals' choices about what they can do with their own bodies (such as consuming alcohol). These decisions have been challenged in various court cases throughout India; most recently, a high court case in Gujarat saw the State government challenging a law which prohibited people from drinking publicly within 200 metres of educational institutions such as schools and colleges. The court ruled that while public consumption could be restricted due to its potential harms, individual consumers should not be discriminated against based solely upon their choice to drink alcohol privately without causing harm or disruption to others around them.
IMPACT OF THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY ON RIGHT TO CONSUME ALCOHOL IN INDIA
“To drink or not to drink. That is the Hamletian dilemma of Anoop, the appellant. He has chosen to drink. He rails at the rules that obstruct his passion for the pint, his right to choose, to be let alone, to privacy, and, of all, his right to life. He claims that the laws prohibiting alcoholic drinks fall foul of the fundamental rights guaranteed to a citizen, to him. Do they? Our answer: No”
The right to privacy has had a significant impact on the enforcement of prohibition laws in India. Under these laws, individuals can be subject to surveillance and monitoring as well as criminal penalties for engaging in activities related to alcohol consumption or purchase. This raises important questions about the degree to which such restrictions are necessary or appropriate given that they limit individual autonomy and personal freedom. Indian courts have held that authorities must demonstrate a legitimate purpose when imposing such restrictions, including protecting public health and safety; this approach reflects an understanding that some rights may be limited by law due to the greater good but should not infringe upon fundamental rights without adequate justification.
The right to privacy also affects freedom of choice with respect to consuming alcohol in India. While some states have imposed prohibition laws due moral concerns, many argue these laws violate citizens' rights under Article 19 (g), which grants all citizens the right "to practice any profession, or carry on any occupation, trade or business". Similarly, while governments can impose certain reasonable restrictions around public consumption of alcohol – such as limiting its availability near educational institutions – individuals should still retain their autonomy when it comes to making decisions about what substances they choose consume privately without causing harm or disruption to others around them. As such, it is essential for lawmakers in India continue balancing individual freedoms against legitimate interests of society when establishing regulations regarding alcoholic beverages and other potentially dangerous substances.
One way in which the right to privacy and drinking laws in India intersect is through the regulation of alcohol sales and consumption. In many states, the sale and consumption of alcohol are heavily regulated and restricted, with alcohol only being sold through licensed vendors and only to those over a certain age. While these regulations are designed to promote public health and safety, they may also infringe upon an individual's right to privacy by limiting their ability to purchase and consume alcohol in private.
Another way in which the right to privacy and drinking laws in India intersect is through the enforcement of drunk driving laws. In India, drunk driving is a serious offense that can lead to fines, imprisonment, and the revocation of a driver's license. While the enforcement of drunk driving laws is necessary for public safety, it may also infringe upon an individual's right to privacy by subjecting them to invasive sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests.
CONTROVERSIES REGARDING THE LAWS GOVERNING RIGHT TO PRIVACY AND RIGHT TO CONSUME ALCOHOL IN INDIA
Critics of the laws governing right to privacy and alcohol consumption in India have raised several concerns about how far such restrictions should extend. Many argue that while governments can impose reasonable restrictions around public consumption, individuals should still retain autonomy when it comes to making decisions about what substances they choose to consume privately without causing harm or disruption to others around them. For example, some critics argue that prohibiting people from consuming alcoholic beverages in their own homes infringes upon their constitutional rights under Article 19.
Critics also point out that certain laws are overly restrictive or vague; for instance, some states’ prohibition laws do not specify whether drinking alone at home is considered a violation or not.
The debate over the right to privacy has been ongoing for decades in India and continues today as lawmakers seek ways of balancing individual freedoms with legitimate interests of society. While there is no single answer on how best regulate this issue, many experts agree that any regulations must be well-defined so as not to unduly restrict citizens’ fundamental rights without adequate justification – particularly when it comes to matters like personal choice and private information sharing. As such, further discussions between policymakers and civil society groups will likely be necessary before any significant changes can be made regarding these controversial issues in India.
There is no fundamental right to consume or trade liquor in India. However, some argue that the right to privacy, which has been recognized as a fundamental right in India, includes the right to consume liquor. The matter is still pending in the courts, and the Gujarat High Court has reserved judgment on pleas challenging liquor prohibition laws in the state.
, coming to the right to privacy which is a recognised right under the Indian constitution, this right further extends to one’s autonomy and his or her ability in regards to controlling vital aspects of life. Personal choice is an intensive part of life and this personal choice should include whether a person decides to drink alcohol or not in the privacy of his or her own home.
Recently, the Gujarat High Court postponed its decision on the maintainability of a slew of petitions challenging the state's restriction on the manufacturing, sale, and consumption of liquor under the Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949, citing ‘manifest arbitrariness' and a breach of the 'right to privacy.' This challenge came into view when petitioners argued that the ‘right to privacy’ which emerged in the recent decade and was unavailable when the ban on liquor was imposed in the year 1950. It is well contended before the court that a citizen is in possession of the right to eat along with the right to drink as per his own choice within the premises of his or her home. This right to drink should include right to consumption of liquor. It is reasoned that state cannot be given such a right that can violate such a fundamental privacy right.
Such valid arguments makes one question all the preceding stance that the courts have taken over the years, in cases that deal with different enactments, prohibiting/ restricting the sale and consumption of alcohol.
In the case of State of Bombay v. FN Balsara, the supreme court had taken the liberty to discuss the vires of the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 wherein, section 12 &13 contemplate prohibition on sale, manufacture, consumption. etc. of liquor within the State. At the time of reorganisation of Bombay into Maharashtra and Gujrat, Gujrat went ahead adopted this act in the 1960. In the case of State of Bombay v. FN Balsara, the petitioner prayed to allow him the right to possess and consume and use certain articles and also import and export such articles. He further requested to take no steps or proceedings against him, penal or otherwise, under the Act. It was contended by the petitioner that in case of prohibition of such act it would violate the Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution which gives a person the right to practice any profession. The High Court agreed with the petitioner's claim that the Act's definition of "liquor" was too broad and beyond the legislature's jurisdiction to act on intoxicating liquors under item 31 of List II. And went on to the supreme court of India. the supreme court further accepted the definition of liquor. Liquor meant— (a) spirits of wine, methylated spirits, wine, beer, toddy and all liquids consisting of or containing alcohol; and (b) any other intoxicating substance which the Provincial Government may notify. The court further held that the section 12 &13 were in fact invalid but only to the extent of medical and toilet preparations that contain alcohol.
Among other issues, question occurs as to whether the Supreme Court 'examined and upheld' the rules inasmuch as they ban the drinking of intoxicating liquor, or if the Supreme Court's conclusions were restricted to the element of medical and toilet preparations described above.
Further in the judgement of Khoday Distilleries Ltd v. State Of Karnataka, the supreme court was dealing with a number of appeals and petitions that challenged the statutory provision of prohibition of liquor trade. The arguments laid down that such a prohibition is violative of Article 19 (1)(g). for this argument the court relied on the Article 47 of the Indian constitution. It directs the state to enhance the level of nutrition and living standards, as well as to promote public health, as one of its major tasks, and in particular, the state should endeavour to bring about the ban of intoxicating drinks and substances that are harmful to health. The court held that in view of such a principle banning of liquor is important as it is injurious to health.
In a 2014, judgement Kerala court , cancelled liquor licence of 3 and 2 star hotels. The court held that the policy of limitation of selling liquor to five-star bar hotels and government-run retail outlets, is sound. It further allowed 4-star bars and heritable bars to sell liquor. The reasoning given for this was that such high-class hotels are not frequented by students and less affluent class and the customers are more orderly and responsible in such places.
In 2015 when Bihar court banned liquor, the Patna High court in its 2016 decision scraped of this compulsion. The reason being that such a policy was pervasive and was in conflict with conflict with Section 19(4) of the Bihar Excise Act.
It is interesting to note however, that the Judges delivered conflicting opinions on the question whether an individual citizen has a right of choice as to how he would live, what he would eat and what he should drink, as a part of right of privacy as contemplated under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Further in 2017, Kerala High court rejected that right to alcohol consumption comes under fundamental right, it held that "The State can regulate the exercise of the fundamental right to save the public from a substantive evil," the court opinionated that rise of mental illness along with more hospitalisation rate of alcohol consumers along with a reduced economic productivity for all this are outcomes of ‘ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION’.
COMPARISION OF RIGHT TO CONSUME ALCOHOL UNDER RIGHT TO PRIVACY IN INDIA AND OTHER COUNTRIES
When it comes to the right to consume alcohol under the right to privacy in India, there are significant differences when compared with other countries. In many western nations such as the United States and Canada, laws regarding alcohol consumption are far less restrictive and individuals have more freedom to make their own choices about what they can do with respect to drinking. This is largely due to a broader cultural acceptance of moderate alcohol consumption in these societies, which tends not be as heavily condemned as it is in India.
In addition, while some states in India have imposed prohibition laws on moral grounds, other countries generally only restrict public drinking or impose taxes on certain types of alcoholic beverages. For example, Sweden has implemented comprehensive regulations governing where and how much people can drink publicly; however private consumption remains unrestricted for adults over 18 years old who remain within legal limits (with exceptions for religious holidays). Similarly, France imposes high taxes on wine but does not legally prohibit its purchase or consumption by citizens over 18 years old.
There are also important distinctions between different regions within India when it comes to regulating the right to consume alcohol under privacy rights. While most states have enacted prohibition laws prohibiting sale and manufacture of liquor products altogether – along with restrictions related places where alcohol can be consumed or purchased – several prominent cities such as Mumbai allow regulated sales at designated shops known as “permit rooms”. On top of this, Delhi recently decriminalized public drinking – allowing individuals above 25 years old who remain within legal limits and do not cause disruption or harm others around them enjoy alcoholic beverages without fear of penalty from authorities.
Overall then, while there may be similarities between different countries’ approaches towards protecting citizen’s rights regarding privacy and consuming alcohol - including those found in India - each nation has set up their own unique framework that reflects their particular values and traditions surrounding these issues . As such , it is important for lawmakers across all jurisdictions continue striving towards finding balance between individual freedoms versus legitimate interests society.
In conclusion, the right to privacy is a critical issue when it comes to regulating alcohol consumption in India. While some states have implemented prohibition laws based on moral grounds, such restrictions must respect individual autonomy and personal freedoms as well as adhere to broader Indian constitutional rights. This means that while governments can impose reasonable restrictions around public consumption of alcohol – such as limiting its availability near educational institutions – individuals should still retain their autonomy when it comes to making decisions about what substances they choose consume privately without causing harm or disruption to others around them.
The jurisdiction of states over the implementation of these laws also plays an important role in defining how much freedom individuals are allowed with regards to consuming alcohol. For instance, Delhi has recently decriminalized public drinking for those over 25 years old who remain within legal limits and do not cause disruption or harm others around them; however other cities may take a stricter approach towards enforcement. It is therefore essential that lawmakers continue striking a balance between individual freedoms versus legitimate interests society when establishing regulations regarding alcoholic beverages and other potentially dangerous substances across all jurisdictions in India.
Looking ahead, there remains an ongoing need for debate between policymakers and civil society groups so as ensure any changes made address both citizens’ fundamental rights under Article 19 (g) while simultaneously protecting public health and safety concerns related to excessive alcohol use or misuse by certain segments of the population. With this in mind, it will be interesting to see how Indian courts interpret existing laws concerning right privacy vs regulation of alcoholic beverages going forward into the future
 Indian Constitution art. 21.
 Justice K.S. Puttaswamy Vs. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1.
 Indian Constitution art. 19.
 Somya Gupta, Right to Liquor: Is consumption and trade of liquor a fundamental right?, iPleaders Blog (May 16, 2020), https://blog.ipleaders.in/right-to-liquor-is-consumption-and-trade-of-liquor-a-fundamental-right/.
 Kusum Ingots and Alloys Ltd. v. Union of India, 2004 SCC (5) 25 (S.C. 2004), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/150193043/.
 Live Law, Gujarat High Court Holds Petitions Challenging Liquor Prohibition Law as Maintainable, LiveLaw.in, https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/gujarat-high-court-holds-petitions-challenging-liquor-prohibition-law-as-maintainable-180063 (accessed April 11, 2023).
 State of Bombay v. FN Balsara, 1951 AIR 318.
 Khoday Distilleries Ltd v. State Of Karnataka, 1995 SCC (1) 574.
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 State of Bihar v. Chanana Enterprises Ltd., 2016 SCC OnLine Pat 962.
 U.T. Joseph v. State of Kerala, W.P. (C) No. 21828 of 2017 (Ker. Oct. 27, 2017).
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