The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought response from Delhi government on a fresh petition challenging the New Excise Policy 2021.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice to Delhi government on the petition filed by Delhi Liquor Sales Association and listed the matter for further hearing on August 27.
In its petition, the sales association has claimed that the new policy is self-contradictory, self-destructive and ultra vires the Delhi Excise Act and the Constitution.
The petition filed through advocate Shailen Bhatia argued that the policy is anti-poor, anti-lower strata and against middle class members of the public of Delhi.
It also said the policy is against the interests of stakeholders, workers, consumers and public at large.
Arguing against the privatisation of the sector, the counsel apprehended that due to non-uniformity in liquor rates, there may also be trafficking of liquor.
He also claimed that the policy reduced the number of dry days in the national capital to only four, adding that even Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti will cease to be a dry day.
There was another petition filed by Delhi Liquor Traders Association but the high court did not issue notice asking it to amend the memo of parties.
The high court noticed that in the petition Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi and some unknown entities have been named as respondents.
"You file amended memo of parties. Delete both. We are not even issuing notice.", the court told counsel for the traders association and listed the case for consideration on August 4.
Senior Advocate Arun Mohan, appearing for the traders association, argued that the entire object of the policy, which was "bringing back the zamindari system", was to oust the common man and MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise).
He also opposed allowing home delivery of alcohol and reduction of tax on liquor from traditional 213% to 2% pursuant to the new policy.
"The policy is actually causing harm to the society. Nowhere in the country this has happened", Mr Mohan said.
He urged the court to stay opening of bids under the policy for the time being.
Several petitions have been filed challenging the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 alleging that it was illegal, unfair, arbitrary and violative of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009.
They 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.
The court had, earlier this month, refused to stay the new Excise Policy on the petition by Readymade Plaza India Pvt Ltd, a group of retail liquor vendors.
Delhi government has stated that its new Excise Policy 2021-22 aimed at minimizing corruption and providing fair competition in liquor trade and that all apprehensions against it were only fanciful.
The AAP government had said that there was full-scale assault on it on the issue and that a reply would be filed to make its stand clear.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)