The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said that the Delhi government has the power and jurisdiction to implement the New Excise Policy 2021. At the same time, the court refused to stay the closure of L-7 licensed retail shops for the sale of Indian liquor in the private sector under the old policy from September 30.
Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, while considering the application of one such license holder Ratan Singh to stay the closure of these shops, said that prima facie no rights have been violated by the new mechanism.
The application was part of a petition seeking extension of licenses to other categories under the provisions of the Delhi Excise Act. The bench said that the government should be allowed to function freely. It should be kept in mind that change is inevitable and the excise policy is no exception. New experiments are always being allowed in matters of policy. Prima facie, we do not want to anticipate the impact of the outcome of the policy.
The court said that prima facie, the respondent has all the powers to frame a new excise policy under the Delhi Excise Act 2009 and its rules and it is within the jurisdiction of the government. The court said that the public at large will not be harmed by the closure of shops as other categories of liquor shops will remain open.
The bench said that there are different types of licenses from L-1 to L-35 for different purposes… Public at large is not going to face any problem. Other licenses will continue.
The court said that under the new policy, 260 out of 849 shops have L-7 and L-10 licenses (retail sale of Indian and foreign liquor).
Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, informed the court that government shops will also be closed from November 16 and hence it is necessary that the new policy is adopted in a peaceful and harmonious manner. Singhvi said that under the new excise policy from November 16, the bidders who are successful in the auction process will start their work.
Senior counsel Mehra insisted that due to the new policy, the revenue has increased by 50 per cent to Rs 9,500 crore and an additional Rs 1,000 crore is also expected.
The petitioner’s counsel has sought a stay on the termination of his L-7 license on the ground that the closure decision is unilateral, arbitrary and in violation of the Delhi Excise Act.