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Delhi HC seeks Delhi Government’s stand on plea challenging new Excise Policy, 2021-22

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New Delhi Jul 29(ILNS): The Delhi High Court, today, sought the Delhi Government’s stand in a fresh plea by an employees union challenging the New Excise Policy 2021-22 announced by the Delhi Government in June this year.
The matter was listed before the Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, wherein notice has been issued and the matter is slated for August 27, 2021.
Filed through Advocate Satya Sabharwal, by Delhi Consumer Cooperative Wholesale Store Karamchari Union, an employee union consisting of more than 350 employees of DCCWSL. The plea avers that DCCWSL  consists of about 75 liquor vends holding licenses since 1985.
The plea seeks formulation of relevant provisions with respect to the employment of existing employees being affected by the said policy. In addition, the plea prays for quashing of the E-tender notice dated June 28, 2021, inviting e-bids for grant of zonal licenses of retail vends; and further to restrain the Government from taking any action in furtherance of the said notice. The plea also seeks to quash the said policy as being illegal, arbitrary, and violative of Delhi Excise Act, 2009.

The petitioner union was represented by Senior Counsel Mr. Maninder Singh, while the Delhi Government was represented by Senior Counsels Dr. Abhishek Singhvi and Mr. Rahul Mehra.
Mr. Singh submitted that the employees are solely dependent on the sale of liquor from the vends held by the Delhi Consumers’ Cooperative Wholesale Store Ltd. (DCCWSL), a society controlled by the Delhi Government. He further submitted that as per the new excise policy, State-owned stores or companies will not be granted retail licenses, meaning thereby that these employees will lose their source of income. 
Per contra, Mr. Singhvi alleged it to be ‘proxy’ litigation attempting to stall the policy.

At the outset, earlier this year, the Delhi Government constituted a committee of Group of Ministers (GoM) under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and comprising ministers Kailash Gehlot and Satyendra Jain, to finalize a new excise policy for Delhi for the year 2021-22. The GoM made an announcement on March 22’2021 on the formulation of a new excise policy. Pursuant to the report by the GoM, the new Excise Policy was introduced by the Delhi Government in June 2021; however, the policy was released in the public domain on July 5’2021, after the direction of the Court.
On June 28, 2021, the Delhi Government floated a tender, inviting e-bids for grant of 32 zonal retail licenses for the year 2021-22 through e-tendering process in the form of L-7Z/L-7V for sale of Indian and Foreign Liquor in the region of NCT of Delhi, on the basis of the newly approved policy. The last date for submission of bids was July 20’2021.

Ever since the Delhi Government announced the New Excise Policy for the year 2021-22, a series of petitions have been filed before the Delhi High Court alleging the policy to be illegal, arbitrary, and violative of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009; which, Dr. Singhvi alleges, is a ‘full-scale assault’ on the Government. The Bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh had, however, refused to stay the new Excise Policy in a batch of similar pleas./ILNS/GM/SV/SNG

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