Extension of excise policy approved, Delhi liquor stores, bars to reopen
A representative of the National Restaurants Association of India said due to natural low demand for liquor on Monday morning and afternoon, the closure of the stores and bars did not lead to a massive crisis
Lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena on Monday approved the month-long extension of the existing Excise Policy 2021-22, paving the way for the reopening of liquor stores and bars in Delhi, an official in his office said. The excise department was now expected to issue an order for the extension following the approval.
Saxena noted he has no other option but to agree with the proposal of the Delhi Cabinet to extend the tenure of the existing retail and wholesale licenses, which expired on Sunday, till August 31 for stock clearance, to avoid any disruption or closure of retail or wholesale vends as well as to prevent sale of unauthorised liquor, and law and order situation due to non-availability of authorised liquor.
The licensees will have to pay an advance pro-rata fee for a month to the excise department. The term of the Excise Policy 2021-22 expired on July 31, and without the approval of the extension, selling liquor would have been considered illegal.
A representative of the National Restaurants Association of India said due to natural low demand for liquor on Monday morning and afternoon, the closure of the stores and bars did not lead to a massive crisis. “The bars can reopen after the order is out.”
At least two liquor traders HT spoke to said they are yet to get the extension order from the excise department and that they will reopen their stores as soon as they get it.
Earlier in the day, liquor stores and bars were shuttered. Shops across Delhi on Sunday reported panic buying as buyers joined serpentine queues as uncertainty prevailed over whether private stores will stay open from Monday.
The Delhi government late on Sunday decided to extend licences of private liquor vends under the new excise policy by a month. The move was aimed at ending chaos at shops during the transition process with the latest policy being rolled back. Delhi has switched back to the old excise regime under which the government will open liquor vends again. The government quit the liquor business after the new excise policy came into effect in November 2021.
The manager of a Connaught Place bar said earlier in the day that he received an email from the excise department saying the status of their license has changed to expired from Sunday. The email asked him to contact the department for further information.
The Delhi government decided to re-implement the old excise policy after Saxena recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation into alleged irregularities and procedural lapses in the implementation of the 2021-22 policy.
The Delhi Cabinet late on Sunday approved the extension and sent the proposal for Saxena’s approval. The Cabinet said the tenure of existing licenses was expiring on July 31 and added to maintain the confidence of people in the administration, the Delhi government extended the existing licenses for a month.