High Court says no to stay auction of liquor vends

Final order after decision on plea against enhanced earnest money

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: August 14, 2013 3:02 am

Refusing to stay the auction of liquor vends,slated to take place on Wednesday,the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday made it clear that finalisation of the auction will be subject to orders of the court on a petition.

A petition had challenged enhancement of earnest money payable for allotment of remaining 90 liquor vends in Chandigarh.

The High Court Tuesday directed the petitioner to file an amended petition by Wednesday,which should challenge the ultra vires rules of the excise policy.

The Chandigarh Administration had opposed the petition on the last date of hearing. It had submitted that “the Chandigarh Administration is well within its rights to amend the rules prospectively having regard to the exigencies of the situation and to make the rules workable.

“Every tender invited for a particular vend is an independent and fresh tender process”.

Opposing the petition,the Administration had stated that the modus operandi adopted by the prospective bidders like the petitioner has been that they bid very high amounts by pooling in their resources and then subsequently surrender the bids. Referring to last year Court directions,the Administration had submitted that non-inclusion of liquor vends in pre-fabricated structures has already resulted in loss of revenue.

Appearing on behalf of the petitioner,Vikram Jain,Additional Advocate General,Haryana had apprised the court that as per the excise policy,the earnest money,payable for allotment of liquor vends with a licence fee upto Rs 60 lakh,was Rs 7 lakh earlier,

which has now been increased to Rs 35 lakh irrespective of the minimum reserve price.

He added that the net effect of enhancement would result in ousting the small players and to bring about monopolization of the trade by big players.

“Surprisingly,whatever be the range of minimum reserve price,the amount of earnest money will be Rs 35 lakh. In some cases,the earnest money is more than the total licence fee for the entire licensing period,which is totally unheard of and out of proportion,” the petitioner had contended,adding that with such changes in the Excise Policy,the rules of game stand changed,which is not permissible in terms of law settled by Supreme Court.

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