Dec 19: With the stroke of a pen, Mr. Sandeep Mishra, Deputy Commissioner (Excise), signed the death warrant today of the wine and beer business of 118 Licensees that were given the L-12 Licenses to sell beer and wine in department stores, thus pressing the Delete button on one of the best decisions taken by the department since wine was introduced in Delhi and appreciated by the consumers, especially women and novices
The department had earlier cancelled licenses of 44 shops after a surprise inspection on Monday, 23 September, of department stores in Karol Bagh, Janakpuri, Azadpur, Jahangirpuri, Dwarka, Kailash Colony and Govindpuri Extension and sealing two shops instantly. Subsequently 44 shops were sealed out of 125 that have the L-10 and L-12 licenses authorising them to sell wine and beer from their outlets on certain conditions.
In a short and concise letter today, the DC (Excise) Mr Mishra says that the License is being withdrawn with immediate effect (actually tomorrow). The Licensees will be entitled to the refund of the license fee for the balance of the year after deduction of any amount due to the department.
The genesis of the cancellation is a letter in which Mr Maneesh Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister who said about 2 months ago that it was shocking that most of these department stores are de-facto liquor vends (in fact they are not allowed to sell any liquor- only wine and beer sales are allowed-editor) defeating the whole purpose of the scheme. The extent of the violation is so high that the entire L12/L12F license turns out to be a farce.’
‘Obviously, any responsible government cannot turn a blind eye to such large scale misuse of its policy. According lit is directed to suspend all these licenses. The government will subsequently bring a revamped scheme with necessary modifications to plug all loopholes based on our experiences and ground reality.’ With the letter he had directed the Commissioner to submit a fresh proposal on the above lines to be submitted to the Cabinet.
Apparently, the cabinet took the decision to cancel all the licenses on December 11. The order takes effect with effect from 20 December (tomorrow).
DelWine has been crisp and clear in its observations- ‘Where there have been gross violations, it may be justified to suspend their licenses. But in case of genuine cases with minor violations, they could be fined as per the law and/or left of with a stern warning. The government also needs to quash the rumours that the harsh action is because of the elections.. Those selling 90% of their sales as wine and beer with an equivalent display of bottles, have made the gross violations and their licenses could be considered for cancellations or suspension with a heavy punitive fine and it would be justified. But the genuine businesses should not be harmed’, was our recommendation.
One bad fish spoils the pond, goes the saying. There were apparently many more than one. It is a pity that the genuine department stores have to suffer due to a few boldly dishonest shops. Genuine department stores have generally better qualified sales people; they treat wine with respect that it deserves. With better storage than most liquor shops, and the ease of women shopping in these stores, it was a boon for them.
The origins of the current policy in which there had been many sever restrictions including a maximum of 15% space allotted to bear and wine-kept separately, had all the good intentions of the government treating wine and beer differently than liquor and more as a food product.
But for now, a chapter in the excise story of Delhi with a lot of positives has been deleted, and one can blame the few dishonest traders for the same.
Delhi Excise suspends Licenses of all 124 Department Stores*
44 Shops sealed by Excise still not allowed to Commence Business
* According to sources, several stores had approched the Honourable High Court and got a Stay against the Order. Starting soon wines and beer should be available once again. Editor
Copy of one Letter of Cancellation List of L-12 holders
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