The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the nation’s capital has scrapped the 2021-22 excise policy and reverted to the old liquor retail regime amid protests from retailers and investigations into the charges of “undue financial favors to liquor license holders”.
Delhi’s deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia, announced on Saturday that the AAP’s old liquor sales policy would be back in effect from August 1.
Sisodia, which also holds the excise portfolio, on Thursday ordered the department to “revert” to the old regime of excise policy for a period of six months until a new policy is put in place, said reported India Today.
Sisodia defended the government’s new alcohol policy and said the policy was aimed at fighting corruption.
While Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has also recommended a CBI investigation, the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police is already investigating the implementation of the new excise policy in the city, it was announced on Friday. officials.
Excise Policy 2021-22 has been extended twice after March 31 for a period of two months each time. The policy was due to expire on July 31, but Arvind Kejriwal’s government has now decided to scrap the policy.
The Excise Department is said to be still working on the Excise Policy 2022-23 which among other things recommends home delivery of alcohol in Delhi. The draft policy has not yet been sent to Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena for his approval. In the meantime, the old regime will be restored in the state.
The New Indian Express reported that a letter marked “Top Priority” had been sent to the state’s Excise Commissioner, Krishna Mohan Uppu, in which Delhi’s Finance Secretary, Ashish Chandra Verma, said on Friday: “The reference is invited to Hon’ble Dy CM’s instructions dated 28.07.2022 which he was, among other things, ordered to revert to the old excise policy regime for a period of six months until a new excise policy is in place.
The letter also mentioned that the deadlines were short hence the Excise Commissioner was advised to take necessary action on the matter and coordinate with Delhi State Industrial Development and Infrastructure officials. (DSIIDC), Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC), Delhi Consumer’s Cooperative Wholesale Store (DCCWS), Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited (DSCSC) for the requested information prepared no later than the end of July 29, 2022 , in the format specified separately for the four organizations.
The information sought relates in particular to “the name of the former sale and its location, the staff deployed under the old regime, whether the premises where the sale was located were rented or owned by the public sector company, and whether the premises were vacant or occupied” according to the report.
The letter was also sent to the heads of the four Delhi government PSUs who were previously engaged in managing liquor sales.
The four companies operated the majority of liquor stores in the city before Excise Policy 2021-22 came into force, with the Delhi government handing over liquor licensing to the private sector. The Delhi government had implemented this new excise policy on November 15, 2021 and the four PSUs were removed from the liquor business, transferring all liquor business to the private sector.
The new excise policy sparked protests from retailers and about 10 zonal retailers out of a total of 32 zones either waived or refused to renew their licenses, accusing the government of favoring wholesalers.
The government has been accused of violating the policy on several counts, leading Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena to suggest a CBI investigation.
(With PTI inputs)
First post: STI