Chandigarh, June 28
Less than a week after the Punjab government's excise policy for 2022-23 came under the judicial scanner, a vacation Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday put the state on notice.
The Bench of Justices Mahabir Singh Sindhu and Vikas Suri made it clear that all allotments would be subject to the decision of the writ petition.
Among other things, the quashing of the excise policy has been sought on the grounds of it “being unjust and arbitrary”.
The Bench, during the course of hearing, was told that it was an attempt to monopolise the liquor industry in the state in favour of a “handful of entities”.
The petition added that the new policy eliminated the interests of the “marginalised wholesalers/retailers for L-1 and L-2 licences”.
Appearing for Akash Enterprises and other petitioners, senior advocate DS Patwalia and counsel Gauravjit Singh Patwalia contended that revenue of approximately Rs 6,158 crore was generated through the excise policy for 2021-2022.
It was renewed and further extended for three months till June 30 before the respondents issued the impugned excise policy till March 2023.
The revenue generation was pegged at Rs 9,647.85 crore. But the policy “suffers from various lacunae”.
The respondents subsequently issued a corrigendum, whereby the maximum number of retail groups that could be allotted to an entity was increased from three to five, which “furthers the intent of monopolising the liquor industry in the hands of a few resourceful bidders”.
Patwalia added that various amendments were carried out in the excise policy, which were primarily concerned with the security required to be deposited by the bidder and the timeline during which the instalments were required to be paid to any one entity”.
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