PUDUCHERRY: As liquor is being sold at prices over and above the MRP in Puducherry, the Union Territory’s retail outlet stores continue with their system of not issuing bills.

Following complaints, Deputy Commissioner (Excise) T Sudhakar, also the Controller of Legal Metrology, on Wednesday issued a warning to liquor shops. However, due to the lack of bills, he would require great effort to collect evidence on the price to take action. “The  FL1 and FL2 retail liquor licensees must instruct employees at liquor shops not to sell bottles at the price exceeding the MRP approved by the Excise Department,” he said, adding that failure to comply may lead to suspension/ cancellation of licence.

A buyer explains the experience of buying liquor in Puducherry, “In most cases, the buyers hardly get to see the bottle before purchase. Generally, the customer lets the employee know how many bottles of the chosen Indian-made foreign liquor products or beer they want. A small chit is handed over to the customer, mentioning the product and the price. On payment, the customer is handed over the same chit with ‘paid’ stamped on it.”

“On producing the chit at the delivery counter, the buyer is handed over the product. The chit is retained by the shop and it is only at the counter, the MRP is seen. At this point, the customer realises he has been charged in excess of the MRP approved by the government,” said the customer.

“Purchasers are unaware of where to complain. There is no number or email id displayed on the shops to register a complaint,” said a tourist, adding that only some locals who know the number of the DC (Excise) have called or sent text messages about such violations. With no bills, the DC (Excise) have to depend on raids by excise sleuths to catch shops red-handed.

According to P Raghupathy of Rajiv Gandhi Human Rights Awareness Organisation, retail outlets sell liquor at MRP to regular customers or known people but charge higher for tourists.

While the MRP had been introduced by the UT government around 2006, no efforts have been taken to ensure receipts are given on purchase. “Even those who sell on MRP rarely give bills, unless the customer insists. If one doesn’t ask they don’t bother to print out any bills,” said a regular purchaser, adding they always insist on bills.

With liquor sales flourishing due to tourism booming, it is not properly regulated, said Raghupathy. “Shops are opening early, especially  in the vicinity of the bus stand, in violation of rules. Other shops open as early as 8.30 am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays,” he said. With tourists making a beeline to shops, the over-charging of liquor is common. The Excise squads are not active at all. How many such violations have been registered by the squad recently ? asks Ragupathy.

The above news was originally posted on www.newindianexpress.com