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Monday, May 29, 2023

HC refuses to stay Delhi’s new Excise Policy, asks Govt. to respond

The Delhi High Court Monday refused to stay the Delhi government’s new Excise Policy 2021-22 which, according to retail shop owners, will lead cartelisation.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice to the Delhi government on the petition and stay application and asked the authorities to respond to it. “Mr. (Mukul) Rohatgi we are not passing that (stay) order today. We will see it on the returnable date. We are not giving any interim relief at this stage,” the bench said.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on August 9. The court was hearing a plea by Mukul Readymade Plaza India Pvt Ltd Mukul Rohatgi, a group of retail liquor vendors who said they were running retail liquor vends in Delhi for past 15 years.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the petitioner, 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 complete exclusion of small people who were having licences for last various years. Cartelisation is eminent here,” he argued. The counsel 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 said one of the conditions is that an entity can have a licence for two zones, which means effectively the entire Delhi shall come in the hands of big 16 entities. Besides the policy, the petitioner has challenged the notice inviting tender for grant of 32 zonal licences of retail vends of liquor and the counsel said the bidding has started from Monday and it will go on till July 21 and the court may consider staying it.

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“My request is the court may say that the bid may go on but it will be subject to the court order,” he submitted. The Delhi government was represented through senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi.

The plea 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 license for each zone shall be granted and license holder has to mandatorily run 18 retail vends.”


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