Updated: June 2, 2021 7:57:24 am
In a key excise policy shift, the Delhi government has paved the way for home delivery of liquor through orders placed on cellphone apps or online web portals.
According to the Delhi Excise (Amendment) Rules, 2021 —published in a gazette notification on Monday — holders of L-13 licences will be allowed to deliver liquor to homes, provided the order is received through a mobile app or online web portals.
“The licensee shall make delivery of liquor at the residences only if order is received through mobile app or online web portal and no delivery shall be made to any hostel, office, and institution,” the notification said.
The amended rules also allow restaurants, clubs and bars attached to hotels to serve liquor in open spaces such as terraces, balconies or courtyards.
The amendments — part of long-standing demands of the alcohol and beverages and restaurant industries — were earlier approved by the Council of Ministers as well as Lt Governor Anil Baijal.
Under the earlier rules, too, holders of the L-13 licence could carry out home delivery of alcohol, but “only if order is received through e-mail or by Fax (not on telephone)”.
An official in the Delhi government said the “impracticality of the rule” meant that there are few, if any, holders of the L-13 licence and thus, home delivery of liquor never took off in the Capital unlike in cities such as Kolkata and Mumbai.
A senior Excise Department official said, “The previous rules were too prohibitive. Now, the government is free to explore the option of allowing home delivery through mobile apps and portals. One cannot expect traders to spend money in procuring a licence that requires customers to place demands through fax and email. Now that the rule has been amended, it is up to the government to take the next logical step of allowing home delivery in reality and not just on paper.”
As the Opposition BJP criticised the move, the Delhi government issued a statement, saying, “L-13 is an existing licence which has been amended. No licence for L-13 or home delivery of licence has been issued.”
Amid lockdown restrictions last year, visuals of crowding outside alcohol shops had prompted the Supreme Court to observe that states should consider home delivery of liquor.
The Delhi government had also considered the possibility of developing a web platform to accept orders for home delivery of alcohol. But as the city gradually unlocked, and liquor shops started operating in full capacity, the plan took a backseat.
The amended excise rules also allow zone-wise allotment of licence to liquor traders and the setting up of super-premium retail vends.
In line with the AAP government’s earlier decision, the policy underlines that any “company or society owned by any state government or its undertaking” shall not be granted licence to operate wholesale trade, retail trade at the zonal level and super premium vends.
Other proposals such as the one to lower the legal drinking age in the Capital from 21 to 18 and allow restaurants to serve liquor till 3 am need the approval of the legislature as these can be implemented only after suitable amendments to the Delhi Excise Act, 2009.
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