If you thought of impressing your friends and relatives by offering them duty-free imported liquor during the Diwali bash or at other social events, you better change your plans.
The excise department has launched a special drive to nail people serving liquor in big parties and functions for which duty is not paid - a non-bailable offence. The drive, which started from Dussehra, will continue till December 31, an official said.
Recently, the department's enforcement team raided a party thrown by a real estate developer and seized several bottles of imported scotch such as Johnnie Walker, Blue Label, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Glenfiddich and imported wine.
"In the past two weeks, we have cracked 10 such high-profile cases, including five in south Delhi, where the guests at social events were served either duty-free foreign liquor or liquor purchased from neighbouring states. To serve liquor at any social gathering, you need to have a special permit. Also, the liquor should have been purchased from a liquor shop in Delhi," said a senior excise department official.
According to officials, not only has the consumption of liquor increased in Delhi, there has been a surge in cases where guests are served high-end liquor purchased from duty-free shops or from the neighbouring states where liquor is cheaper than Delhi.
A few months ago, the excise team had raided the mehndi ceremony of an industrialist's son, which was attended by several ministers, and seized several cartons of duty-free imported liquor or wine.
"It has become a status symbol among the elite to serve duty-free liquor. We often get information from people attending the parties. It is a non-bailable offence and the minimum punishment in such cases is six months imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 50,000," said an enforcement official.
From April 1 to November 6 this year, the department cracked 395 cases where either duty free liquor was being served or liquor was being smuggled from neighbouring states and arrested 434 people. The seizure included bottles of foreign liquor and 54,865 bottles of Indian made foreign liquor.