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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Punjab Govt’s 2022-2023 excise policy challenged in HC, notice issued to state

The petitioners say the Punjab Government’s excise policy for 2022-2023 is an attempt to monopolise the liquor industry.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh |
Updated: June 29, 2022 6:09:00 am
Punjab, Punjab latest news, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Punjab Additional Chief Secretary, DNA kits, rape case, Punjab rape case, indian expressPunjab and Haryana High Court (File)

A vacation bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court Tuesday issued a notice to the Punjab government on a petition that challenged the state’s excise policy for the year 2022-2023, on the ground that it was an attempt to monopolise the liquor industry.

The petition filed by Akash Enterprises and others, all of who are wholesalers/retail liquor vendor owners operating in Punjab, came up for hearing before a division bench of Justices Mahabir Singh Sindhu and Vikas Suri on Tuesday.

The HC while issuing the notice for July 5, ordered, “Allotment of licence(s)/permit(s) on the basis of Excise Policy 2022-23, if any, shall be subject to the final outcome of the writ petition.”

The petitioners, represented by senior Advocate DS Patwalia with counsel Gauravjit Singh Patwalia, sought the
quashing of the excise policy on the ground that it was unjust and arbitrary. The counsel for the petitioners argued that the excise policy was an attempt to monopolise the liquor industry in the state in favour of a “certain handful of entities”. The petition added the new policy eliminated the interests of the “marginalised wholesalers/retailers for L-1 and L-2 licences”.

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The petition mentioned that in February 2021, the Punjab Government formulated the excise policy for the financial year 2021-2022 and generated a revenue of around approximately Rs 6,158 crore. In March 2022, the Punjab Government renewed and further extended the excise policy for the financial year of 2021-2022 for a period of three months — from April 1, 2022, to June 30, 2022.

In June 2022, the government issued a revamped excise policy for 2022-2023 for a period of nine months — from July 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023. The revenue generation for the said period has been pegged at Rs 9,647.85 crore.

However, the plea stated that the policy suffered from various lacunas.

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The counsel for petitioners argued that the Punjab government had issued a corrigendum whereby the maximum number of retail groups that can be allotted to an entity has been increased to five from three, which furthers the intent of monopolising the liquor industry into the hands of a few resourceful bidders.
They contended that various amendments were carried out in the excise policy primarily regarding the security fee that was to be deposited by the bidder and the timeline during which the instalments were required to be paid by the bidders.

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First published on: 28-06-2022 at 02:56:16 pm

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