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Saturday, October 23, 2021

‘Change is inevitable’: HC refuses to interfere with closure of liquor vends in Delhi

The government had earlier announced a new liquor policy and several petitions challenging it are pending before the court.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: September 30, 2021 8:37:56 am
File image of a liquor shop. (Express photo)

The Delhi High Court Wednesday said that the state has all the power and jurisdiction to float a new excise policy, while declining to interfere with the Delhi government’s decision to not extend the operation of licenses of certain types of liquor vends beyond September 30.

“It ought to be kept in mind that change is inevitable. Excise policy is no exception to this rule. New experiments are always permitted in matters of policy. Prima facie we don’t want to prejudge the result and effect of the new policy,” said the division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, while dismissing an application challenging the government decision to not extend the operation of L-7 licenses in the city.

The Delhi government, which was represented by senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Rahul Mehra along with its standing counsel Santosh Tripathi, told the court that the new policy has turned out to be a “bonanza” for the state as the revenue has increased to Rs 9,500 crore from Rs 5,500 crore of the previous year. Mehra told the court that they were expecting more profit of around Rs 1,000 crore.

The government had earlier announced a new liquor policy and several petitions challenging it are pending before the court. The new policy is scheduled to be implemented from November 17. The L-7 license under the previous policy meant retail vends of Indian liquor in the private sector and L-10 meant the retail vends of Indian liquor and foreign liquor in shopping malls and shopping complex at the airport. On September 10, the government excluded the two license types from extension till November 30 as was announced for certain other license types.

The court on Wednesday noted that there are different types of licenses under the new policy and the government was going to discontinue in a phased manner the previous licenses from September 30. It said it was not in agreement with the applicant that the extensions had been granted arbitrarily.

“In view of the new excise policy, the respondents are closing the private vends who are having L-7 and L-10 licenses under the 2010 policy. Prima facie the mechanism does not violate any rights of the petitioner,” said the bench, adding the people also were not going to be affected as they would only have to “move out of their comfort zone.”

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