SET highlights ‘dilly-dallying’ by Excise Department in giving info : The Tribune India

Booze Scam

SET highlights ‘dilly-dallying’ by Excise Department in giving info

Says huge shortage of liquor in districts could not be probed

SET highlights ‘dilly-dallying’ by Excise Department in giving info

File photo

Sushil Manav

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9

The Special Enquiry Team (SET) headed by IAS officer TC Gupta to look into the ‘liquor scam’ on the directions of Home Minister Anil Vij has highlighted “dilly-dallying” by the Excise Department, which comes under Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, in providing information sought for the purpose of the probe.

The SET could not go into aspects like shortage of liquor found in stock of wholesalers, movement of liquor from wholesalers to vends and production of liquor by various distilleries in the state during the lockdown as the Excise and Taxation Department refused to part with the information, saying that “the competent authority has not yet taken a decision whether this information is to be compiled or not”. The SET, in its report, said these aspects needed to be probed further.

“The SET would like to highlight dilly-dallying in furnishing information required by the Excise and Taxation Department. The SET asked for information on various aspects from the department through a letter on May 22. The Excise and Taxation Commissioner (ETC) provided some information, but did not do so on some other important aspects citing different reasons,” the report said.

The SET observed that Subhash Yadav, who was a member of the team, had stated that sale of liquor had been reported across the state despite the lockdown.

As per the law, liquor licensees were required to surrender the unsold leftover stock to the department at the end of the financial year on March 31. Several complaints regarding theft of leftover unsold stock were received across the state and FIRs registered.

It seemed that during the lockdown, the sale of liquor was largely from unsold leftover stock of the previous year and hence, the SET decided to seek information about such stock.

However, in response to the SET request for information regarding physical inspection of stock of wholesale licensees conducted by DETCs and DCs, the ETC replied that information was being compiled and would be submitted to the Chief Minister.

To the request about information regarding movement of liquor from wholesale licensees to retailers in March and stock and production of liquor by all distilleries, breweries and bottling plants and supply from April 1 to May 6, the ETC replied, “The competent authority has not yet taken a final decision as to whether this information is to be compiled or not.”

“The ETC supplied information pertaining to the distillery issue on July 28 after an e-mail and two reminders. As per information, three distilleries — ADS Spirits Private Limited, Jhajjar; Piccadilly Agro Industries, Bhadson, Karnal; and Falcon Distilleries Limited, Sonepat — produced liquor during the lockdown while others had reported no production,” said the report, adding that this aspect needed to be looked into as the SET could not inquire this.

The report further said though the ETC did not provide information about shortage of liquor detected during physical verification, the DETCs, when called for interaction, admitted that a substantial difference in stock was detected.

When asked to furnish the data, all except the Fatehabad DETC said the details of physical inspection was done by officers assigned by DCs and the report had been directly sent to the government.

The Fatehabad DETC reported shortage of 201 cases of IMFL and 456 cases of beer with Vinayak Associates.

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