Hauz Khas village is the uptown complex in the Hauz Khas locality of Delhi which houses many pubs and restaurants. With cool ambience and loud music this place is one watering hole where Delhi likes to drink and rest it woes. However, the complex has been in limelight for many wrong reasons as well.
Dr. Anuja Kapur, the famous criminologist has recently filed a PIL against the unlicensed pubs and restaurants in Hauz Khas Village, which are serving liquor without the liquor licence and No Objection Certificate (NOC). The PIL was heard by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of High Court, Justice G. Rohini and Justice Sangeeta Dhingra.
Dr. Anuja Kapur has spend decade practising and teaching psychology. She has done her masters in criminology with a course in forensic science. She also has degrees in LLB and victimology.
Dr. Anuja is a social activist and has been quite vocal on leading platforms with issues such as women empowerment, rape, violence irrespective of the gender involved. She is also the founder of an NGO called “Nirbhiya ek shakti” which provides assistance to all the victims in form of counselling, legal aid, vocational courses, and rehabilitation irrespective of age.
We got in touch with Dr. Anuja to understand the whole issue. Here is our interview throwing some light on legal issues pertaining the pubs and restaurants in Hauz Khas Village.
What is the legal drinking age in Delhi?
Legal Drinking age in Delhi is 25 years. Not many people are aware of this. Legal drinking age in our country varies from state to state. In some of the states it is 21 years and in some 18 years as well.
So, do you think this rule is being strictly followed in the country?
Not at all! In Delhi, the establishments serving alcohol do not make it a point to check the ID cards. A lot of kids do not carry the original cards, these are forged. The person serving liquor needs to be smart enough to match the ID card with the personality of the child and the body language. One needs to be sure if the kids look capable enough to buy or even handle alcohol.
Is the rule for 25 years of age in Delhi correct? I mean, other states have age limit upto 21 years and 18 years.
The frontal lobe of our mind which develops at around the age of 22 years controls the urges. So, a juvenile consuming alcohol, biologically will not have a control over himself or herself. It’s the mind that is not developed enough and capable to handle oneself incase of intoxication which leads to alcohol abuse and unwanted actions.
The people making laws in this country needs to be the counsellors, psychologists, criminologists and not random folks who do not understand the factors affecting a particular situation and hence make the law just for the purpose of enforcement.
Hauz Khas has been under the lens for licensing and illegal construction a long time now. What made you file the PIL?
Yes, that is true. There have been few instances earlier when the issues have been brought to notice but nothing has happened.
On 3rd December 2016 at around 11 am, I was at Hauz Khas with friends and family for the inauguration of a friends pub. There was this girl of 18 to 19 years of age with her friends who was drunk and hurt to the state of unconsciousness. A beer bottle has broken on her head.
She was bleeding profusely. None of her friends were in the condition to help her. We tried to take her to the hospital. The stairs of the restaurants in Hauz Khas are so narrow that no two people can walk at the same time. No autos were ready to help us. There was no police that we could ask help from. There was one constable who refused to help us stating that this is an everyday thing and we should ask for help somewhere else.
This whole thing disturbed me to the core. Come to imagine, if a fire mishap were to happen in that place, anyone in their right mind can tell that it will be a stampede. There is no place for an ambulance or a fire trucks to enter the area.
On 11th January 2017 I filed the PIL.
How many establishments do you think would be under the radar for illegal construction, for serving liquor without licensing and flouting safety norms?
There would easily be 70-80 establishments in the Hauz Khas area itself that would be flouting the law.
What exactly is the no objection certificate that these establishments are suppose to procure?
The no objection form is the L4 form procured from the excise department. It is granted to the independent restaurants. The form looks at various aspects of an establishment for example – license for store and service of liquor, hygiene, parking space, fire safety measures, separate smoking zones, separate toilets for men and women, if its near to any hospitals, educational institutes or religious places etc. This form is very crucial for an establishment to be up and running.
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) bars any construction within 100 metres of its protected monuments. Also, In 2013, National Green Tribunal ordered 33 eateries to be shut down for a few days as they were flouting environmental norms. Has any action been taken?
None at all. Things start but die down just as quickly The government and police needs to be strong enough to take an issue to conclusion.
What actions do you think will happen as a result of your PIL?
Chief Justice Gita Mittal has asked all the involved authorities to take a survey of the area and come back with a stringent report of the exact situation.
Your message for the readers?
Change the questions we ask. Enough of WHY, we need to start asking HOW.
Criminals should be behind the bars. We as a society have put the law behind the bars. The law enforcers should not be the ones flouting it. The law in our country is perfect. People are the ones who are playing with the law and they are the ones who need to chance.
Disclaimer: Any pictures used in the article are for mere depiction of the locale. Usgae of any picture is no indication of its involvement in legal matters what so ever.