Fearing influence of liquor on voters in Punjab elections 2017, Election commission ordered shutting down state’s five distilleries in order to stop production and movement of liquor till the polling date, February 4. The decision seems significant as recently a joint team of the EC and the excise and taxation department seized 1.2 lakh bottles (10,000 boxes) of illicit liquor from two godowns in Bathinda. The EC also ordered stated authorities to keep an eye on rest 12 distilleries in the poll bound state.
A preliminary probe team formed by EC found that the liquor seized in Bathinda was prepared and dispatched from these five distilleries. Four of them are in the Malwa region and one in Gurdaspur. Sources said that excise duty was not paid for the seized liquor, and therefore agency is mulling to levy heavy penalty on the manufacture. Officials said that they are checking holograms and stocks of the bottles seized and matching these with records obtained from the distilleries.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Punjab, VK Singh confirmed the action and stated that their major focus is to check distribution of liquor and drugs in the five poll-bound states, including Punjab. An order has already been issued by EC to ban sale of liquor from the evening of February 2 to the end of polling in poll bound states.
Moreover, EC has also issued an advisory to neighboring states Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Jammu & Kashmir and Rajasthan to keep liquor shops closed within three kilometers of the state border from 48 hours before the polls.