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Delhi HC refuses to hear plea against new excise policy, says matter already before court

The plea, filed by Delhi Liquor Sales Association challenging Delhi govt's Excise Policy 2021-22, claimed that it was anti-poor, anti-lower strata and against the middle class.

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to hear Delhi Liquor Sales Association’s challenge to the Delhi government’s new Excise Policy 2021-22, saying the issue is already before the court.

Justice Rekha Palli noted that a similar challenge by Readymade Plaza India Pvt Ltd was being heard by the bench headed by the Chief Justice and directed that Association’s plea be also listed before that bench on July 22.

List on July 22 (before the bench headed by the Chief Justice) subject to the orders of the Chief Justice, the judge said.

The order was passed after senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and advocate Santosh Kumar Tripathi, appearing for the Delhi government, informed the court that Readymade Plaza India Pvt Ltd’s petition against the new Excise Polict 2021-22 was pending before the bench headed by the Chief Justice and was coming up for hearing next on August 9.

That petition was heard for 20 minutes (earlier this month). Stay was declined , Singhvi said.

Advocate Arnav Chatterjee, appearing for the association, urged the court to list the matter before the Chief Justice on Thursday itself instead of on August 9.

The Association has submitted that the new policy is self-contradictory, self-destructive and ultra vires the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 and the Constitution of India.

The petition, filed through advocates Shailen Bhatia, Chatterjee, Vibhuti Sharma, also claimed that the policy is anti-poor, anti-lower strata and middle class members of the public of Delhi and also against the interests of stakeholders, workers, consumers and public at large.

On Monday, a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh had refused to stay the new Excise Policy which, according to retail shop owners, will lead to cartelisation.

The court had issued notice to the Delhi government on the petition and stay application and asked the authorities to respond to it.

The plea was filed by Readymade Plaza, a group of retail liquor vendors who said they were running retail liquor vends in Delhi for the past 15 years.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the petitioner, had said by the new Excise Policy, Delhi will be divided into 32 zones and a person can bid for two zones and the policy will lead to complete monopoly of the few big players.

All small retail vendors are left out. The entire thing is monopolised by the Delhi government for big people. This is the complete exclusion of small people who were having licences for the last various years. Cartelisation is eminent here, he had argued.

The counsel had said the minimum reserved price for one zone licence is around Rs 200 crore due to which the existing retail vendors are completely out of competition.

The plea had said the respondents divided Delhi in 32 zones, having 9-10 wards in each zone, for the purposes of issuance of liquor licence. Respondents have also introduced a new category of zonal licence, L-7Z, whereby holders of these licences shall run the retail vends. The scheme of the impugned Excise Policy is such that one L-7Z licence for each zone shall be granted and licence holder has to mandatorily run 18 retail vends.

On Tuesday, a bench headed by Justice Vipin Sanghi had also refused to hear Ashiana Towers and Promoters Pvt Ltd’s petition against the new policy and directed that the same be listed before the Chief Justice’s bench.

Also read: Delhi will have to wait for alcohol home delivery, vendors don’t have licence yet


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