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Delhi Government Reverts To Old Liquor Sale Policy | What You Need To Know

Delhi's LG Vinai Kumar Saxena has now recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the policy.

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Edited By :Tejas Harad

(This story has been republished in the context of the Delhi Government reverting to its old liquor policy from 1 September 2022, allowing retail sales of liquor for six months)

On Saturday, 30 July, the Delhi government announced its decision to revert to its old liquor sale policy, allowing retail sales of liquor for six more months.

The decision was announced a day before the expiry of the government's Excise Policy 2021-22 on 31 Ju

The Delhi government formally exited from the liquor business on 17 November 2021, shutting down its 600 vends to pave way for swanky, new, privately owned shops.

Under the Excise Policy 2021-22, introduced by the Arvind Kejriwal-led administration, as many as 850 new private vends were to commence operations in the national capital.

However, several liquor stores failed to open for being located in non-confirming areas of the city, and many such vends were sealed by the municipal corporations.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress staunchly resisted the policy, making it a flashpoint between the opposition and the Kejriwal government.

They even approached Delhi's lieutenant governor, as well as central agencies, for a probe into it.

On Friday, 22 July, Delhi's LG Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the policy, alleging rule violations and "gross procedural lapses."

Let us look at the controversy surrounding the Delhi government's move.

Delhi Government Reverts To Old Liquor Sale Policy | What You Need To Know

  1. 1. What the Policy Stated

    The new policy introduced by the Arvind Kejriwal government sought to give retail licences to 850 liquor vends, including 266 that were privately run, across 32 zones of the city.

    The strategy was touted as a way to boost the city's treasury, and was seen as a way to revolutionise the consumer experience by replacing the existing liquor vends with swanky liquor stores.

    These were some of the reforms introduced by the Delhi government in 2021:

    • Except those licensees who have been permitted to operate around the clock, bars in hotels, clubs and restaurants in the national capital, will be allowed to operate till 3 am.

    • Hotels, clubs and restaurants in Delhi will be allowed to serve Indian and foreign liquor in any area within the licensed premises, including the terrace or balcony, as long as the liquor served is away from public view.

    • A new licence, L-38, for banquet halls, party places, farmhouses, motels, wedding/party/event venues has been introduced by the Delhi government, with permission to serve Indian and foreign liquor at all parties hosted on their premises on payment of a one-time annual fee.

    • Retail sales in the form of L-7V (Indian and Foreign Liquor) can be opened in any market, mall, commercial streets and areas, and local shopping complex.

    • Retail vends that will be air-conditioned will have glass doors. However, customers will not be allowed to crowd outside a vend or the pavement and buy over the counter, the policy document stated.

    • Apart from satisfactory security arrangements as the vend itself is responsible for the law and order around the premises, CCTV cameras will also have to be installed inside and outside the vend.

    • Additionally, there will be no restriction on the shelf life of opened liquor bottles at the bar counter.

    • There will be 849 retail liquor vends in the city, including five super-premium retail vends, having a minimum carpet area of 2,500 square feet.

    Expand
  2. 2. The Controversy and What the Opposition Said

    Opposition parties, namely the BJP and the Congress, accused the AAP government of promoting alcoholism and 'making the youth directionless' through the changes announced.

    Earlier this year, the Delhi BJP even launched a 'referendum' to garner the public sentiment on the policy.

    "There could not be a bigger issue in Delhi, as this excise policy will affect the health and future of Delhiites in a negative manner," Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta was quoted as saying in CP.

    He alleged that the new strategy was 'making the youth directionless' by 'promoting alcohol.'

    Meanwhile, when the policy was implemented in November 2021, the Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri also decried the AAP administration, saying that while it had come to power promising new schools and hospitals, it was opening new liquor stores.

    “The new excise policy will make the atmosphere bad for women and girls and they will not feel safe,” Times of India quoted Bidhuri as saying.

    He added, “Delhi has a high unemployment rate. In such a situation, the AAP government has implemented the new excise policy to allow free flow of liquor that will ruin the life of youths."

    In December of the same year, BJP staged a 'chakka jam' across Delhi against the excise policy, leading to traffic jams in various parts of the capital.

    Amidst the agitation, Adesh Gupta evinced, "Shops are being opened near residential and religious places. Our protest will continue until the policy is rolled back."

    Expand
  3. 3. AAP's Response

    Facing the ire of Opposition parties, the Aam Aadmi Party launched a scathing attack on the BJP, with Delhi deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia expressing that it was "rattled" as the new excise policy aims to curb the sale of illegal liquor in the national capital.

    “BJP always had a link with alcohol mafia. Illegal alcohol was sold at many places by BJP. With CM Kejriwal's schemes stopped Rs 3,500 crores of money from being stolen, so BJP is in pain," Sisodia had said.

    In a series of tweets, the party explained, "Earlier: Liquor mafia in Delhi used to steal revenue of Rs 3-4 thousand crore through illegal liquor shops. Then: Arvind Kejriwal government brought New Excise Policy, bringing the liquor mafia under control and saving the public Rs 3,500 crore. Now: BJP people are harassing the people of Delhi by creating road blockades."

    Expand
  4. 4. The CBI Probe

    Eight months after the implementation of the policy, Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a probe into the policy, and accused Delhi minister Manish Sisodia of extending undue financial favours to the liquor licensees.

    The inquiry comes on the basis of a report filed by the Delhi chief secretary, who elucidated that the policy was prima facie breaching GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules 1993, Delhi Excise Act 2009, and Delhi Excise Rules 2010.

    An official statement by the LG's office said, "Minister In-charge of the Excise Department, Manish Sisodia took and got executed, major decisions/actions in violation of the statutory provisions and the notified Excise Policy that had huge financial implications," NDTV reported.

    Meanwhile, Kejriwal rubbished the recommendations of the LG, saying that any case against Sisodia was fabricated.

    (With inputs from PTI, ANI, NDTV and Times of India.)

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What the Policy Stated

The new policy introduced by the Arvind Kejriwal government sought to give retail licences to 850 liquor vends, including 266 that were privately run, across 32 zones of the city.

The strategy was touted as a way to boost the city's treasury, and was seen as a way to revolutionise the consumer experience by replacing the existing liquor vends with swanky liquor stores.

These were some of the reforms introduced by the Delhi government in 2021:

  • Except those licensees who have been permitted to operate around the clock, bars in hotels, clubs and restaurants in the national capital, will be allowed to operate till 3 am.

  • Hotels, clubs and restaurants in Delhi will be allowed to serve Indian and foreign liquor in any area within the licensed premises, including the terrace or balcony, as long as the liquor served is away from public view.

  • A new licence, L-38, for banquet halls, party places, farmhouses, motels, wedding/party/event venues has been introduced by the Delhi government, with permission to serve Indian and foreign liquor at all parties hosted on their premises on payment of a one-time annual fee.

  • Retail sales in the form of L-7V (Indian and Foreign Liquor) can be opened in any market, mall, commercial streets and areas, and local shopping complex.

  • Retail vends that will be air-conditioned will have glass doors. However, customers will not be allowed to crowd outside a vend or the pavement and buy over the counter, the policy document stated.

  • Apart from satisfactory security arrangements as the vend itself is responsible for the law and order around the premises, CCTV cameras will also have to be installed inside and outside the vend.

  • Additionally, there will be no restriction on the shelf life of opened liquor bottles at the bar counter.

  • There will be 849 retail liquor vends in the city, including five super-premium retail vends, having a minimum carpet area of 2,500 square feet.

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The Controversy and What the Opposition Said

Opposition parties, namely the BJP and the Congress, accused the AAP government of promoting alcoholism and 'making the youth directionless' through the changes announced.

Earlier this year, the Delhi BJP even launched a 'referendum' to garner the public sentiment on the policy.

"There could not be a bigger issue in Delhi, as this excise policy will affect the health and future of Delhiites in a negative manner," Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta was quoted as saying in CP.

He alleged that the new strategy was 'making the youth directionless' by 'promoting alcohol.'

Meanwhile, when the policy was implemented in November 2021, the Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri also decried the AAP administration, saying that while it had come to power promising new schools and hospitals, it was opening new liquor stores.

“The new excise policy will make the atmosphere bad for women and girls and they will not feel safe,” Times of India quoted Bidhuri as saying.

He added, “Delhi has a high unemployment rate. In such a situation, the AAP government has implemented the new excise policy to allow free flow of liquor that will ruin the life of youths."

In December of the same year, BJP staged a 'chakka jam' across Delhi against the excise policy, leading to traffic jams in various parts of the capital.

Amidst the agitation, Adesh Gupta evinced, "Shops are being opened near residential and religious places. Our protest will continue until the policy is rolled back."

AAP's Response

Facing the ire of Opposition parties, the Aam Aadmi Party launched a scathing attack on the BJP, with Delhi deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia expressing that it was "rattled" as the new excise policy aims to curb the sale of illegal liquor in the national capital.

“BJP always had a link with alcohol mafia. Illegal alcohol was sold at many places by BJP. With CM Kejriwal's schemes stopped Rs 3,500 crores of money from being stolen, so BJP is in pain," Sisodia had said.

In a series of tweets, the party explained, "Earlier: Liquor mafia in Delhi used to steal revenue of Rs 3-4 thousand crore through illegal liquor shops. Then: Arvind Kejriwal government brought New Excise Policy, bringing the liquor mafia under control and saving the public Rs 3,500 crore. Now: BJP people are harassing the people of Delhi by creating road blockades."

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The CBI Probe

Eight months after the implementation of the policy, Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a probe into the policy, and accused Delhi minister Manish Sisodia of extending undue financial favours to the liquor licensees.

The inquiry comes on the basis of a report filed by the Delhi chief secretary, who elucidated that the policy was prima facie breaching GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules 1993, Delhi Excise Act 2009, and Delhi Excise Rules 2010.

An official statement by the LG's office said, "Minister In-charge of the Excise Department, Manish Sisodia took and got executed, major decisions/actions in violation of the statutory provisions and the notified Excise Policy that had huge financial implications," NDTV reported.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal rubbished the recommendations of the LG, saying that any case against Sisodia was fabricated.

(With inputs from PTI, ANI, NDTV and Times of India.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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