The Delhi excise department has issued a circular “reiterating” that independent restaurants serving alcohol cannot play any form of music other than live music, while citing complaints of “nuisance” caused by these establishments from residents. However, owners of prominent pubs and eateries serving alcohol in the city claimed they were not aware of any such rule.
Issued on May 16, the circular states that only “live singing/playing of instruments by professionals shall be allowed” in case of L17 licence holders — a category under which most pubs fall. “In exercise of powers conferred under rule 53 (4) of Delhi Excise Rules, 2010, the undersigned hereby directs all the licensees of the department holding L-17 license to do business in strict compliance of provisions of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 and Excise Rules, 2010. It is reiterated that the L-17 licensee is permitted only to have live singing/playing of instruments by professionals within his licenced premises. Violation of these rules shall lead to strict action as per law,” it says.
Deputy Excise Commissioner Ashraf Ali also said the circular was a mere reiteration of existing rules. Officials said they issued the circular upon receiving complaints from areas such as Greater Kailash. The M Block market in GK houses several pubs and eateries. Umang Tiwari, who owns the pubs Junkyard Cafe and Garam Dharam in Connaught Place, questioned the logic behind the circular.
“This will be another blow. We are already reeling under the impact of note ban, GST, sealing drive. Our business is already down and this will aggravate the situation… I fail to understand the purpose behind this circular. What is the point of allowing live music by professionals and not recorded music? Plus, most pubs are in commercial areas,” he said.
Priyank Sukhija, owner of Flying Saucer, and Boombox Cafe among others said, “Technically, mixers and CD players are also instruments and a DJ is also a professional. A few years ago, this circular had surfaced. Even then, we used this logic after meeting with the excise department. If there is any problem, we will approach the court for this. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard since being in this industry.”
When contacted, staff at Route 04, Connaught Place and Locale, Saket, said they are aware of the circular but are yet to receive it. While several pubs have occasional live performances, they mostly rely on pre-recorded music to entertain the clientele.