Maharashtra Bars See A New Rule - ID Required For Entry, Here’s What Industry Experts Have To Say

A new mandate to counteract underage drinking in Maharashtra has been implemented at bars, pubs and restaurants across the state. New rules require government-issued photo identification and age proof for alcohol purchase at bars. These measures aim to enforce the legal drinking age. Bar owners and experts in the space share their thoughts.
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Maharashtra to crack down on ID checks to prevent underage drinking at bars.

Underage drinking in India has been a rampant issue for many years and in light of recent events in Pune where an underage driver killed two while drunk, official regulations are set to see an overhaul to course correct the issue. Across Maharashtra, a new rule has been issued that individuals must produce a government-issued photo identification and age proof to drink at pubs and bars.
Being carded at a bar is not a new phenomenon, in fact it can be quite a frequent occurrence. What is set to be different is the stringency of those checks. "The new rules mandate stricter ID proof requirements, including verification of age and identity, whereas earlier regulations relied on simple ID proof submission," says a spokesperson from Independence Brewing Company (IBC).

The Current SituationWhile for many years the legal drinking age has been set at 25 years for hard liquor and spirits, and 21 for mild beer, more often than not, the verification process hasn’t been particularly rigorous, as the Pune incident – and many others – has catapulted the issue into the spotlight. "The current incidents have called for stricter implementation of the rules for legal drinking age," says Pranav Rungta Co-founder and Director of Nksha restaurant and Vice President of NRAI Mumbai.
The new regulations spell a tougher path for underage people getting into bars and purchasing alcohol at independent shops, but it will mean a change in procedure for the bars themselves. "While it may lead to additional operational challenges, we believe the new measures will positively impact restaurants by promoting a safer and more responsible drinking environment," says IBC.
While the wellbeing of customers is always a priority for owners, it's come into question how much liability should fall on them in the case of incidents that occur off restaurant property. In that respect, one of the new regulations from the excise department is being questioned, "The notice which has come from excise, puts criminal liability on bar owner if a minor drinks at their establishment and commits a crime outside. This is extremely draconian and we will seek review of the same," adds Rungta.
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Stricter checks will be performed for the consumption of both hard liquor and beer.

The Outcome

As anyone who has ever been a teenager may already know, efforts to wrangle the foolhardiness of youth often just instigates creativity. On the subject of how the new rules will combat underage drinking Rungta adds, "There will definitely be a stricter check by restaurants and this will drive away some of the business to either house parties or outside the city."
It's often said that abstinence breeds an unhealthy fascination, so maybe the question is not 'How can we stop young people drinking?', but 'How can we make the process of young people drinking safer?' "We support the new measures as a step in the right direction, but believe sustained awareness campaigns and education are also essential to tackle the root causes of underage drinking," says team IBC. Pranav Rungta also believes that there needs to be a conversation about the drinking age overall in order to streamline and strengthen the way India tackles this issue. "We do seek a long-term review of the legal drinking age via due process. If a person is legally an adult he should be allowed to drink," he says.
While these new moves are still fresh and untested, the crackdown on ID proof is sure to alter the game for both bars and customers, and hopefully result in a safer and more productive drinking culture for Maharashtra.
End of Article
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