The Delhi government has told the Delhi High Court that sale or consumption of liquor is not a “fundamental right” of the citizen but a “privilege”, and the state has the “authority and jurisdiction to regulate (including prohibit totally or partially)”.
Filing a counter affidavit on May 27, the Delhi government sought dismissal of petitions against its move to levy “Special Corona Fee” of 70% on the MRP of liquor of all brands in the national capital amid the Covid-19 pandemic. On May 15, the court had sought the Delhi government’s response on a batch of PILs seeking setting aside of its May 4 notification and declare it illegal. The matter is to be taken up for hearing Friday.
The 70% is on the maximum retail price (MRP) per bottle. For instance, a liquor bottle having a pre-tax MRP of Rs 1,000 will now cost Rs 1,700.
The Delhi government, through its Standing Counsel Ramesh Singh, said: “…The total Excise Revenue (including the impugned Corona Fee) collected by the State during the aforesaid period between May 4 to May 25 has been to the tune of Rs 227.44 crore (inclusive of Rs 127 crore of Special Corona Fee), against the total revenue collection of Rs 425.24 crore in May 2019,” the affidavit states.
The government said its revenue has shrunk by almost 90% in the month of April 2020, and the total collection dwindled to a mere Rs 300 crore as opposed to approximately Rs 4,000 crore in the corresponding month last year.
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