In high spirits: India’s drinking laws

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The Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to allow those with an annual income of over Rs 10 lakh to stock as many as 100 bottles of expensive liquor in their homes, for an annual fee of Rs 10,000, has turned the spotlight on a little-known aspect of drinking laws in the country: the amount of spirit one can stock at home.


According to Delhi excise rules, no individual can stock more than 18 litres of wine, liquor, beer, cider and alcopop and 9 litres of Indian and foreign liquor (whisky, rum, gin,vodka) at home or for parties. Those travelling from another state to the capital cannot carry more than a litre of any category of liquor and those coming from abroad can bring only 2 litres of foreign liquor with them.


The state allows households to stock 2 bottles of IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor); 1 case of beer (650 ml per bottle); 2 bottles of imported liquor of any size (either 1 litre of 5 litres); 2 bottles of country-made liquor and a bottle of brandy. Those looking to stock more can obtain a L-50 permit (annual fee of Rs 1,000 and lifetime fee of Rs 10,000).


It allows individuals to stock 6 bottles (750 ml each) of country liquor; 18 bottles (750 ml) of IMFL liquor, of which 6 bottles can be of Imported Foreign Liquor; 12 bottles (650 ml) of beer ; 6 bottles (750 ml) of rum; 12 bottles of wine and 6 bottles (750 ml) of vodka/gin/cider. For those still not satisfied, the state allows more private possession through a L-50 form, that can be bought for Rs 200 (for a year) and Rs 2,000 (lifetime payment).


Till 1976, liquor could only be bought in this north-eastern state through a prescription from a registered medical practitioner, but the law was amended in 1976. The state now allows its residents 12 IMFL bottles of “reputed” alcohol, each of a maximum 750 ml. There are no provisions for stocking more.


The state allows residents 12 bottles or 9 litres of IMFL. There are, however, provisions for individuals looking to hold parties. For domestic parties, licences can be bought for

Rs 2,000 plus taxes while for commercial ones, the rate has been set at Rs 10,000 plus taxes.

Himachal Pradesh

36 bottles of whisky and 48 of beer permitted per person. For anything more, the L-50 licence is applicable. The hill state also offers concessions under a special licence called 50-A.


The sunshine state allows 12 bottles of IMFL liquor; 24 bottles of beer; 18 bottles of country liqour, 6 bottles of denatured spirit and rectified spirit at home. Goa, though, has strict punishment for violators. As per its excise act, punishment includes (rigorous) imprisonment which may extend to seven years, with or without fine (minimum punishment not to be less than six months).