New Delhi: A plea was moved on Wednesday by several liquor vendors challenging the order dated February 28 by which the excise department of the government of NCT of Delhi, has prohibited the issuance or grant of discounts/ rebate/concessions by the retail licensees on alcohol brands in view of reports of overcrowding outside vends and the existing threat of COVID-19.
The petitioners who are valid L 7Z license holders stated that in June 2021, the Delhi government had approved the new Delhi Excise policy for 2021-2022 and stated that according to the liquor policy and the tender expressly permit grant of discounts by the retail licensees.
Clause 4.1.9 (viii) of the policy in its last line states “The licensee is free to give concession, rebate or discount on the MRP.” Similarly, Clause 3.5 .1 of the tender in its last line states “The licensee is free to give concession, rebate or discount on the MRP”, stated the plea.
Advocates Sanjay Abbot, Tanmaya Mehta and Honey Uppal for the petitioner stated that the actions of the respondent are arbitrary, manifestly, arbitrary, disproportionate, discriminatory and violative of the petitioner’s fundamental rights under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. And, no opportunity of being heard was given before withdrawing commercial clauses having an impact on the civil rights of licensees. There has been a total breach of natural justice, said the petition.
The impugned decision of the respondent completely takes away the petitioner’s right to take business decisions with regards to discounts/concessions/rebates which the petitioners were otherwise empowered to take under the new Excise policy and tender documents.
‘Clauses’ such as giving discounts formed an essential part of the new Excise policy scheme. Hence, the order to discontinue/withdraw an important clause is in complete contradiction to the letter and spirit of the Excise Policy, added the plea.
Further, the decision of the respondent of passing the impugned order after taking huge license fees leaves the petitioners high and dry because the petitioners had decided to participate in the bidding process only after relying on the clauses of the tender. Therefore, prohibition of discounts contrary to clauses of the tender and of the excise policy amounts to impermissibly changing the essential nature of the policy by the respondent and it would cause huge losses to the petitioners, the plea stated.