Mere smell of alcohol does not mean person is drunk, says Kerala HC

Drinking alcohol in private without causing nuisance to others not an offence, court says

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Black’s Law dictionary defines intoxication as: ‘A diminished ability to act with full mental and physical capabilities because of alcohol or drug consumption; drunkenness’ | Representational image: Twitter

Consumption of alcohol in a private place without causing nuisance to others does not constitute an office, the Kerala High Court recently said.

Justice Sophy Thomas also said that mere smell of alcohol cannot be construed to mean that the person was intoxicated or was under the influence of alcohol.

To arrive at its conclusion, the court referred to the definition of intoxication as per Black’s Law dictionary which says: “A diminished ability to act with full mental and physical capabilities because of alcohol or drug consumption; drunkenness.”

The court was ruling on a petition in which the petitioner was booked under the Kerala Police Act for coming to a police station under the influence of alcohol.

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The petitioner, represented by advocates IV Pramod, KV Sasidharan and Saira Souraj, submitted that he had been invited to the station for identifying an accused, and by failing to do so, the police had created a false case against him.

“Even if it is taken for argument sake that the petitioner had consumed alcohol, the available facts and materials are not sufficient to suggest that, he was not able to control himself or he committed rioting inside the Police Station causing nuisance. He reached Police Station, only because he was asked to be present there. Prosecution has no case that the petitioner is having any criminal antecedents,” the court said.

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