Chandigarh administration's decision of five-fold increase in the earnest money payable for allotment of the remaining 90 liquor vends in the city has been challenged in the Punjab and Haryana high court. On the petition filed by Krishan Kumar Garg, a division bench comprising justices Rajive Bhalla and Bharat Bhushan Parsoon issued notice of motion to the UT administration seeking reply by August 2.
The earnest money for liquor vends with a licence fee up to Rs 60 lakh was Rs 7 lakh, which has now been hiked to Rs 35 lakh, irrespective of the minimum reserve price.
Petitioner's counsel Vikram Jain informed the court that as per excise policy for 2013-14, the earnest money was Rs 7 lakh, but with the hike the auction rules also stand changed, something that is not permissible in terms of law settled by the Supreme Court.
He said the hike would result in ousting small traders from the auction and monopolisation of the trade by big players. The lawyer further argued that, surprisingly, in some cases the earnest money was more than the total licence fee for the entire licensing period "which is totally unheard of and out of proportion".