HC asks Delhi govt to respond to plea of liquor store' employees union challenging Excise Policy

The plea was opposed by Delhi government, which said it was a proxy litigation and deserved to be dismissed with cost

HC asks Delhi govt to respond to plea of liquor store' employees union challenging Excise Policy

Photo for representation only. Source: iStock.

New Delhi, July 29

The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought response of the Delhi government on a plea by the employees of Delhi Consumer Cooperative Wholesale Store challenging a provision of the new Excise Policy that there shall be no government owned liquor vends for Indian made foreign liquor and foreign liquor.

The petition submitted that if the licences for the Delhi Consumer Cooperative Wholesale Store (DCCWSL) are not renewed, employment of 350 people working there will be affected and that any policy depriving livelihood as guaranteed under the Constitution is arbitrary.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice to the Delhi government and DCCWSL on the petition filed by Delhi Consumer Cooperative Wholesale Store Karamchari Union and asked the authorities to file their replies within two weeks.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on August 27, along with several other petitions which have also challenged the new Excise Policy 2021-22 on various grounds.

The plea was opposed by Delhi government, which said it was a proxy litigation and deserved to be dismissed with cost.

Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, said after failing to get any relief in eight other petitions challenging the excise policy by liquor retailers, they have filed this proxy litigation on behalf of employees.

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the petitioner union, said the DCCWSL is a society held by the Delhi government and more than 350 employees are working there.

He said the employees' only source of income is by selling liquor through over 70 vends and if the licence is not renewed, they will not be getting any salary and their life is at stake.

The petitioner has challenged the provision in the policy which says “there shall be no government owned liquor vends for IMFL/FL and licences in the form of L-6, L-6FG & L-6FE will become redundant.” “It is submitted that, from 1985, every year, annually the licence of L-6 and L-8 is renewed. Flowing from that, the licence of L-6 (Indian made foreign liquor) of the DCCWSL (consisting of 71 shops out of 95) will be only valid till September 30, 2021 and the licence of L-8 (country liquor) will be continued to till further orders (consisting of 24 shops out of 95) and if the licence of L-6 and L-8 are not renewed then employment of 350 people will be affected and including their family members,” the petition filed through advocate Satya Sabharwal said.

It said any policy depriving livelihood, which is an integral part of Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, is arbitrary and in these tough times of COVID- 19 when the pandemic comes in waves, livelihood or employment is of essential and may not be deprived.

Several petitions have been filed in the Delhi High Court challenging the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 alleging that it was illegal, unfair, arbitrary and violative of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009.

The petitioners have also sought to quash the June 28 e-tender notice of Delhi government, prescribing the procedure to be followed for inviting zone wise electronic bids for grant of 32 zonal licences of retail vends of liquor for supply of Indian and foreign liquor brands in the national capital.

Delhi government has stated that its new Excise Policy 2021-22 aimed at minimising corruption and providing fair competition in liquor trade and that all apprehensions against it were only fanciful.

The AAP government has said that there was full-scale assault on it on the issue and that a reply would be filed to make its stand clear. — PTI

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