Haryana excise officials admit to shortfall in liquor stocks before SETUpdated: Aug 10, 2020 04:42 IST
Seven deputy excise and taxation commissioners (DETCs) from various Haryana districts had admitted to substantial variation in the liquor stocked by the contractors during the lockdown period.
The admissions were made by the excise officials on the basis of their checking on April 30 and also by teams constituted by deputy commissioners.
The information was shared by the DETCs during a May 29 interaction with the special enquiry team (SET) formed by the state government for inquiring into the instances of pilferage of liquor from warehouses.
The SET report said that, however, when the DETCs were asked to furnish data to this effect in their written submissions, none except DETC (E), Fatehabad, VK Shastri did so.
“Except DETC (E), Fatehabad, all the DETCs reported that wholesale godowns of Indian made foreign liquor and country liquor were inspected by the deputy commissioners and the report was directly submitted to the state government,” reads the SET report.
Shastri, however, sent a written submission on June 6 stating that huge shortages were observed on physical inspection of liquor stocks.
Stating that there was unauthorised removal of liquor deliberately from an IMFL and a country liquor wholesale godown of Shree Vinayak Associates, Fatehabad, and a country liquor wholesale godown of Discovery Sales, Fatehabad, Shastri wrote that it appears that the licensees had taken away and disposed of the liquor stock in a clandestine manner without the knowledge of the excise department.
“It’s a cognisable and non-bailable offence punishable with both imprisonment and fine. The licensees have thus committed not only a criminal act but also an act punishable under Punjab Excise Act,” the Fatehabad excise official wrote.
After going through the liquor shortfall data, the SET in its report said that this is a huge shortage during a brief period.
“It is also learnt that huge shortages have been reported by other districts as well. But the information was not being provided by the excise and taxation department for reasons best known to it. It is evident that there was huge unauthorised movement of liquor during the lockdown,’’ the inquiry report said.
While the SET report had blamed excise and taxation commissioner for only giving verbal instructions to order the closure of liquor vends during the lockdown, deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala defended the move to “successfully close down” liquor vends during lockdown without issuing written instructions.
The department in its response to SET though admitted that 29 permits authorising contractors to procure IMFL and country liquor supplies from wholesale godowns and 90 passes for transporting liquor were issued online by the officials in several districts during the lockdown. Dushyant, however, said it happened because the software was designed to be operational till March 31 and could not have been interfered for security reasons by officials. “No vehicle left any distillery premise on basis of these passes. We have sought explanation of officials responsible for issuing of these passes,” Dushyant said.
Liquor deficit found at Fatehabad godowns:
1. Vinayak Associates (country liquor godown): 9,503 cases
2. Discovery Sales (country liquor godown): 10,505 cases
3. Vinayak Associates (IMFL godown): 456 cases of beer