Karnataka govt takes U-Turn for its plans to change ‘legal age to buy liquor’

Karnataka government had earlier proposed changes to the excise rules to reduce the legal age for the purchase of liquor from 21 years to 18 years.

The minimum age for buying a liquor 

Drawing flak from parents for proposing to reduce the minimum age for purchase and consumption of alcohol in Karnataka to 18 years, the state government on Monday decided to stay with 21 years as the threshold age, reported TOI.


To end the confusion on the minimum age caused by two different excise rules, the government issued a draft notification on January 9 proposing to reduce the base age from 21 to 18 years.

“If you go by the provisions of Karnataka Excise Act-1965, the minimum age for purchase and consumption of alcohol is 18. But as per Karnataka Excise Licenses (General Conditions) Rules 1967, the minimum legal age is 21. The department wanted to resolve this confusion besides making it consistent with the voting age for youngsters,” the official said.

Revising legal age 

Following this proposal, the experts collectively criticized the move and urged the government to rethink its decision.


Acknowledging the negative feedback from citizens and experts, state excise minister K Gopalaiah speaking to TOI stated that he has taken note of their opinions and urged senior officials to stick to 21 years in both Excise Act and Excise Rules.

“During discussions with excise officials, I was told the proposal was based on Yashwanth committee recommendations. At least 4-5 states have 18 years as the minimum age, but Karnataka has directed excise officials to have a uniform threshold age of 21 years in both (law) formats,” the minister said.

Gopalaiah said since the draft is already published, it will be kept open for comments and objections for 30 days as per the rule. Later, a notification will be issued uniformly restricting the minimum age to 21 years.


Meanwhile, Sources in the department also revealed that the liquor industry has been demanding a reduction in the age limit stating that it would expand the consumer base and help the government earn more revenue.

The revenue earned by the state from the sale of liquor collected Rs 26,377 crore in 2021-22 from Rs 21,583 crore in 2019-20. Also, according to data provided by the excise department on New Year’s Eve, a total of 1.5 million cartons of beer had been sold against 1.1 million cartons last year, reporting an increase of 33.81%. In the case of IML, 2.6 million cartons were sold against a total of 1.9 million cartons last year, reporting a 6.17 % increase. “Some states such as Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Puducherry have reduced the age limit to 18,” the official added.