When online liquor sale ‘start-up’ delivered to cops, and got arrested
Until its creators were arrested, it seemed like the perfect ‘start-up’, providing lazy Netflix-and-chill generation the opportunity to get all kinds of alcohol delivered to their doorstep.
Wanting to cater to the apparent supply gap, two Chandigarh youths — MBA-passout Anurag Awasthi who worked for a Delhi IT firm; and the other an engineer, Pratham Gupta, a technical analyst with Infosys in the city — set up gettalli.com, a website which lists everything from Finland Platinum Vodka to Jagermeister liqueur to various kinds of chakhna along with the prices. As per an ‘event’ on their Facebook page (239 ‘likes’), the site was launched on December 23, 2015, at 6 pm.
The website, still up and running, in an attempt to bypass rules, says right at the top: “We do not sell liquor. On your request, we procure liquor from a government authorized vendor on your behalf and deliver it to you.” The site also has a number of delivery terms and conditions besides promising delivery within 60 minutes in Chandigarh and Panchkula.
Delivery charges are promised to be free for an order value above Rs 500, else Rs 20 per order. Another term is: “If the order exceeds the cap provided by excise policy for transportation of liquor, in that case, we might divide your order into two distinct orders placed separately to which shipping fees will apply to each of them separately. Before doing so, we would call you once and ask for your confirmation.” They deliver between 6 pm to 11 pm on weekdays and between 3 pm and 11 pm on weekends.
The bust and arrest
Crime branch officials had a tip-off that online liquor was being sold through a website. The police arranged a decoy customer and gave an order of 30 liquor bottles, including imported wine. The police recovered three Chivas Regal bottles, one Bombay Sapphire bottle, one Barleys bottle, one Belvedere vodka bottle, one Camino tequila bottle, one Jack Daniel bottle, one Drambuie liqueur and 21 bottles of Black and White whisky, from their possession when the order was delivered. The police booked them under sections 120 (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), along with Section 61-1-14 of the Excise Act.
Deputy commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi, who is also the excise and taxation commissioner, said, “No permit was issued for online sale. We had also received the complaint. Our team was with the crime branch officials when the accused were nabbed.”
“The excise department has claimed that liquor vends in Chandigarh for 2016-17 have been allotted and had fetched a licence fee of around Rs 200 crore had been collected. Through this online sale, the accused had set up a virtual vend and caused revenue loss to the department,” a Chandigarh crime branch official said.