Delhi liquor vendors move high court over government order to drop liquor discounts to curb rush

Several liquor vendors in the Indian capital have filed suit in the High Court challenging the excise department of the government of NCT of Delhi’s February 28 order which prohibited the issuance or grant of discounts/ rebate/concessions by the retail licensees on alcohol brands in view of reports of overcrowding outside vends and the existing threat of COVID-19.

Liquor stores in several parts of the city were seen offering discounts up to 35 per cent on certain IMFL brands. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@ANI

The Delhi government had decided to put a brake on maximum retail price (MRP) discounts on liquor amid a huge rush in the shops across the national capital.

“It has been brought to the notice of the department that as a result of the discounts being offered by the licenses through their retail vends, there are instances reported of large crowds gathering outside the liquor stores leading to law and order problem and causing inconvenience to local population of an area,” an order from the excise department read.

“It is also to be kept in mind that the COVID situation is not yet over and the danger of COVID-19 still persists and therefore the huge crowds is likely to aggravate the rise in Covid cases in Delhi,” it added.

The Delhi government further said such discounting was leading to “unhealthy market practices deployed purely for short term business gains” by some licensees in the capital.

“Licensees are seen indulging in various promotional activities through social media and banners/hoardings being placed outside the stores which is a non-permissible activity under the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 and Delhi Excise Rules, 2010,” the excise department said, adding this was not the intent while allowing discounts under the new excise regime.

Liquor stores in several parts of the city were seen offering discounts up to 35 per cent on certain IMFL brands.

On the other hand, the petitioners who are valid L 7Z license holders stated that in June 2021, the Delhi government had approved the new Delhi Excise policy for 2021-2022 and stated that according to the liquor policy and the tender permit permit grant of discounts by the retail licenses.