The Punjab excise and taxation department has been struggling to recover around Rs 380 crore from bigwigs in liquor trade to fill the huge gap of revenue collection in the current fiscal ending March 31. And the major defaulters include firms owned by former Akali minister Jagdish Singh Garcha and his son, and murder accused liquor baron Shiv Lal Doda.
Of the stipulated target of Rs 380 crore, Star Wines and Royal Wines, in which the Garchas are main stakeholders, owe Rs 40.75 crore to the excise department, as per the notices served to these firms on February 21.
The Star Wines owes Rs 19.10 and the Royal Wines Rs 21.65 crore.
The copies of notices, which are in HT’s possession, had fixed February 28 as the deadline for the defaulter to clear thei dues failing which their assets could be sealed or an arrest warrant against them could be procured.
Punjab excise and taxation commissioner Varun Roojam confirmed the development, saying the department had already earmarked the assets of some defaulters to ensure recovery.
When contacted, former Akali minister’s son Harjinder Singh Garcha, said the matter was pending in the court. When confronted that the stay of the Punjab and Haryana high court was only on the cancellation of their liquor contract licenses, Harjinder said he will react only after the high court verdict.
He, however, confirmed some assets of the Garcha family have been earmarked in red by the excise and taxation department. The red marking means the department can auction the property if the defaulter fails to clear dues.
THE COURT ORDER
The high court on Monday dismissed a bunch of petitions of liquor firms giving liberty to them to take up thei case with the excise and taxation commissioner who has powers under Section 3.19 of the Punjab excise manual for 2016-17.
“In such circumstances, the petitions are dismissed with liberty to the petitioners to avail of any alternative remedy, including resorting to clause 3.19 of the Punjab excise manual 2016-17,” stated chief justice SJ Vazifdar in its order pronounced on Monday.
The court stated that the interim order of the stay on the cancellation of their licences would continue till March 31, so the petitioners can take up their case either with the department or in the Supreme Court.
The recovery from Star Wines and the Royal Wines pertained to their liquor trade mainly in Sangrur and Moga districts. Besides Garcha, another stakeholder in the Ryal Wines is Patiala-based liquor contractor Arvind Singla.
The father-son duo and the other stakeholders in the two firms were summoned on February 28 for depositing the licence fee. Senior officials were, however, didn’t confirm whether the defaulters appeared to deposit the fees.
DODA OWES Rs 22.75 CRORE
Firms in the name of liquor baron Shiv Lal Doda, who is presently behind the bars in a murder case, owes Rs 22.75 crore to the department. The amount to be recovered pertains to the liquor contracts in the Bathinda zone.
Last week, a team of excise officials from Bathinda marked Doda’s 50 acres land in red line at Kallarkhera in Fazilka district after getting permission from the Fazilka deputy commissioner.
The other firms under scanner include that of Akali MLA Deep Malhotra.
These are Oasis Distillery, Marlboro International, Vijayata Breweries Ltd, Gaurav Malhotra and Company, and Gautam Malhotra and Company.