The Delhi government is likely to do away with the mandatory requirement that licensees must have two liquor vends in each municipal ward, officials aware of the matter said.
Though the provision was originally designed to ensure equitable access to liquor in all areas of Capital, it is likely to be dropped in the revised Delhi Excise Policy 2022-23, the officials cited above said.
A cabinet note recently prepared by the finance department said that there are around 100 wards in Delhi in which liquor vends cannot be opened. This is because of restrictions imposed by the Excise Policy and Rules — such as a bar on liquor vends within 100 metres of educational institutions, religious places, and hospitals.
“In such a situation, keeping it mandatory to open two vends in each of the wards (Delhi has 272 municipal wards) is not practical and it has been recommended that the practice should be discontinued,” said an official, asking not to be named.
The cabinet note, which has been approved by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia as the minister in-charge, said,“Considering the constraints in opening of vends in non-conforming wards, the GoM (group of ministers) has recommended that the requirement of opening of mandatory two vends per ward may be discontinued and the licensee shall be allowed to open up to 27 retail vends in any of the conforming wards..”
The Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 had triggered a backlash from the opposition parties on this front when it was rolled out in February last year.
Leader of the opposition in the Delhi assembly and BJP MLA Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said the government should roll back the entire policy.
“Liquor outlets have been opened near religious places, schools and hospitals due to which people are angry… The order of the Delhi government to open liquor shops in non-conforming areas was completely against the rules,” said Bidhuri.
Delhi Congress vice-president Abhishek Dutt said, “Liquor stores that opened within 100 metres of religious places, educational institutions and hospitals should be closed.”