The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the AAP government for response to a plea asserting that its New Excise Policy 2021 restores the "Zamindari" system abolished by the Constitution and facilitates a monopolistic cartel.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice on the challenge by the Delhi Liquor Traders Association, which claims to represent 143 licensed liquor traders in the national capital, along with two liquor licence holders.
The court also sought response from the Centre and the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.
Last month, the court had refused to issue notice on the petition after noting that the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi and some unknown entities had been named as respondents.
Senior Advocate Arun Mohan told the court that an amended memo has been filed after deleting the parties.
In the petition filed through advocate Arvind Bhatt and Siddharth Sharma, the trade body has alleged that the New Excise Policy is unconstitutional and unworkable.
It said that although the traders do not have the fundamental right to trade in liquor, they have a right to complain against denial of continuation of existing licence and killing competition.
"There are number of other legal challenges as well, including the facilitating of monopolistic cartel; while debarring the non-super-rich and thus killing all competition. In a way it seeks to restore the Zamindari system of the British era (for land revenue) and which was abolished once the Constitution came into the force on 26.01.1950," the petition reads.
The petition also claims that by virtue of the policy, "crores collected, in effect, as taxes would not reach the consolidated fund".
The Association has sought a direction to declare that the sovereign right to collect taxes cannot be auctioned by way of the New Excise Policy and thus all consequential actions including the tender for granting zonal licences are bad in law.
Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi with advocate Santosh Tripathi appeared for Delhi government.
Several petition are pending before the court against the New Excise Policy.
The court had, last 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.
The petition will be heard next on August 9.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)