HC asks Delhi govt's stand on plea claiming new Excise Policy seeks to reduce age of drinking liquor

The court listed the plea for further hearing on September 17

HC asks Delhi govt's stand on plea claiming new Excise Policy seeks to reduce age of drinking liquor

Photo for representation only. — File photo

New Delhi, July 28

The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought response of the Delhi government on a plea challenging a provision in the new Excise Policy, claiming that it seeks to reduce the age of consumption of liquor from 25 to 21.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Jyoti Singh issued notice and asked the Delhi government to file reply to the petition which has also sought to quash a provision in the new Excise Policy that there shall be no government-owned liquor vends and only privately-owned vends will be available for selling alcohol.

The court listed the plea for further hearing on September 17.

The plea by NGO All India Bhrashtachar Virodhi Morcha said there is an opinion among a lot of people that reducing the age of consumption of liquor will increase alcoholism amongst students and younger generation of the society, leading to other consequent problems and the decision to close government vends is not in public interest.

The plea said the new policy states that "the age of selling or serving liquor should be in consonance with that of the neighbouring states".

Advocate Vijay Sharma, representing the NGO, claimed that the Delhi government is effectively seeking to reduce the minimum age of consumption of liquor from 25 to 21 years, as is the case in neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh.

Presently, the minimum age of consumption of liquor in Delhi is 25 years, while it is 25 and 21 in neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh respectively.

The petitioner said Article 47 of the Constitution states that the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of consumption of intoxicating drinks, except for medicinal purposes, which are injurious to health.

It said the consumers of liquor will also be affected as they are assured about the quality of alcohol when they purchase it from the government vends and this assurance would not be there in case of private vends.

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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