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UP hotels allowed to serve liquor through the night

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2020 12:40 AM IST

The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has decided to allow all star hotels in the state to serve liquor through the night.

To be implemented from April 1, the major policy shift is aimed primarily to cater to the demands of tourists or foreign investors whose arrival is expected to increase, government officials confirmed.

The move was also to put UP ‘at par’ with other states where hotels serve alcohol late into the night, they added.

“In Gurugram, for instance, hotels serve liquor well into the night,” an official said.

The decision would also help state mop up additional revenue as the hotels wanting to buy two post midnight slots of two hours each for serving liquor would be required to pay extra fees.

“Hotels wanting to serve liquor from midnight till 4 am would need to pay Rs 0.5 million (Rs 5 lakh) extra while ones wanting to serve liquor from midnight till 2 am would be charged Rs 0.25 million (Rs 2.5 lakh),” UP’s principal secretary, excise, Sanjay Bhoosreddy said.

The decision would be implementable in star hotels in prominent cities of the state, especially ones where foreigners are expected. Lucknow, Meerut, Noida would be among major UP cities where the decision would be implemented, he added.

Until now, under the excise policy for 2019-20, hotels were allowed to sell or serve liquor from 10am to midnight. For an additional payment of 0.125 million (Rs 1.25 lakh) the hotels could extend the servings till 1am.

“So far, we had no way to check if the hotels would serve their guest liquor at night. We can’t obviously place an excise inspector outside each room. Now, of course, the policy shift would ensure that government earns additional revenue that was otherwise being lost,” an official said.

Asked if hotels cheat on the government by not seeking extended hours but continue to serve on the sly, a senior official said, “If caught, they would have to pay heavy penalty and would even risk losing their liquor license. We will put up a system in place which ensures that the norms aren’t flouted. We would plug the leakage.”

A manager of a prominent hotel welcomed the decision, saying it would legalise the system. “Many hotels would tell you that they would bribe the excise inspectors in order to keep serving liquor.

There were cases and complaints of fleecing. But, all this would be legalised for if I have permission to sell till 4 am, I guess I am tension free,” the manager requesting anonymity said.

Regular bars wanting to serve liquor for extra hours would be required to seek permission to serve beyond midnight and for a hefty price.

The state government has already increased licence fee for country made (‘desi’) liquor by 10 per cent, beer by 15 per cent and foreign liquor by 20 per cent in the excise policy for 2020-21. The state’s liquor lobby doesn’t appear very happy with the new policy, saying they fear their profit margins shrinking after the new policy.

Clubs not serving liquor regularly could also take occasional bar licenses, for serving liquor for six hours anytime between 10 am and midnight.

The timings could be extended till 1 am with the permission of the local administration though, for that clubs or hotels using the license would need to pay Rs 11000 for it, Rs 1000 more than what was charged so far.

For individuals hosting a liquor party at their residence or any private place, without any ‘profit motive’, they would have to pay Rs 4000 as fees to the excise department for the day, as per the new liquor policy for 2020-21.

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