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“Patna High Court: Breath Analyser Not Definitive Proof of Alcohol Consumption, Rules Single Judge

The Patna High Court, through single-judge Justice Bibek Chaudhuri, has ruled that a breath analyser report alone does not serve as definitive proof that an individual has consumed alcohol

Justice Chaudhuri emphasized that the accurate method to determine alcohol consumption remains through blood and urine tests.

The court’s decision stemmed from a case involving the dismissal of a sub-divisional office clerk from Kishanpur, following allegations of reporting to work under the influence of alcohol in February 2018. The clerk, who passed away during the proceedings, had asserted that his condition on that day was due to consuming cough syrup containing alcohol, as he was suffering from a cold and cough.

Justice Chaudhuri pointed out that despite the clerk’s arrest, there was no procedure followed to analyze his blood or urine samples to ascertain the alcohol content in his body at the time of the incident. The judge noted the absence of evidence such as unsteady gait, incoherent speech, or dilated pupils, which are typically associated with alcohol consumption.

Quoting the Supreme Court’s stance that mere detection of alcohol smell is insufficient to establish consumption, Justice Chaudhuri criticized the disciplinary action taken solely based on the breath analyser report. The Patna court concluded that this report does not conclusively prove alcohol consumption, highlighting that the disciplinary authority disregarded established legal principles in its decision-making process.

The judgment, rendered on June 19, responded to a petition filed by the deceased clerk’s wife challenging his dismissal under the Bihar Prohibition and Excuse Act, 2016. The ruling underscores the necessity for adherence to comprehensive testing methods when determining allegations of alcohol consumption in such cases.

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