Monday, July 15, 2024

Wondering when home delivery of alcohol can begin in New Delhi? Long way to go still

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A June 1 notification on amended excise rules had generated a lot of buzz on the possibility of liquor finally being delivered to doorsteps in New Delhi. However, even after three weeks of the notification, home delivery of alcohol is nowhere close to reality.

This is because the notification was only a formality, amending an archaic rule and making the path for home delivery easier. The actual service is not likely to begin anytime soon, as the Delhi government needs to draw up regulations to prevent the possible misuses of the provision, such as under-age drinking and theft.

The government also needs to fix delivery charges, which push up liquor costs significantly, as seen in places such as Kolkata and Mumbai where doorstep delivery of alcohol is allowed.

The June 1 notification had merely amended Rule 66 of the Delhi Excise Rules, under which home deliver0y of liquor was technically allowed but “only if order is received through e-mail or by Fax (not on telephone)”. Those interested in getting into the delivery business could apply for an L-13 licence with the Excise Department. However, the impracticality of the rule ensured there were no takers for the licence — which comes at a premium — between 2010 and 2021, when the arrangement was in place.

After the amendment, future L-13 licence holders will be allowed to accept orders for home delivery through mobile apps and portals too. But no such licence has been issued so far as the regulations to govern the home delivery sector have not been drawn up.

Also, the proposal to lower the drinking age in Delhi from 25 to 21 has not been approved yet. For that to happen, the Delhi Excise Act will have to be amended in the Legislative Assembly.

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 then 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.

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The above news was originally posted on indianexpress.com

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