Throwing all rules to the wind, the Punjab excise and taxation department has allowed sale of liquor in the state without registration of even a single label of liquor companies. This means that liquor being sold across the state is illegal.
According to the excise policy for year 2015-16, the department of excise and taxation was supposed to register all liquor labels of companies by charging a significant amount of fee on different varieties of liquor sold in Punjab.
However, it seems that the top officials of the excise department are sleeping on the issue, as the sale of liquor has started from April 1 this year after the new liquor vends were allotted to the contractors through a draw of lot.
When HT contacted the excise officials, they stated that although it was important for the companies to register their labels with the excise department, the officials claimed that the contractors were selling the stock of previous year that was carried forward. However, the excise officials were not able to answer the query asking if the contractors sell new stock, along with the older stock.
Amrit Kaur Gill, deputy excise and taxation commissioner (DETC), Ludhiana, said, “The department has so far not received the list of registered brands of liquor from the head office of excise at Patiala.”
“So far no label of liquor has been registered in Punjab,” Gill said.
As per the excise policy of the state, brand registration fee for Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), beer and ready to drink (RTD) is Rs 72,000 per label. Brand registration fee for Punjab Made Liquor (PML) including rum, gin, and whisky of any degree is Rs 18,000 per brand, and fee for imported foreign liquor is Rs 36,000 per label.
This has not only raised serious questions over the intentions of the excise department whose duty is to enforce rules regarding sale of liquor in the state, but has also caused a loss worth crore of rupees to the department that would have been earned through registration of the labels of hundreds of liquor companies.
Interestingly, no challan against these companies has so far been issued by the excise officials as per the provision of excise policy of Punjab.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Parminder Singh, excise and taxation officer (ETO), said, “The contractors were using the stock that has been carried forward from the previous year. Patiala head office has to register the label of the liquor brands. However, so far no label has been registered.”