March 03: The Delhi High Court has affirmed that an individual, aged above 25 years, can possess 9 litres of Indian Liquor and Foreign Liquor, i.e., whisky, vodka, gin and rum, and 18 litres of beer, wine and alcopop, the observation made by Justice Subramonium Prasad while adjudicating upon a petition for quashing of the FIR registered against a Delhi resident, for illicit liquor storage in his house.
132 bottles of liquor were recovered from the Petitioner's house, who did not possess a valid Liquor license. This included 51.8 liters of whisky, rum, vodka, gin, and 55.4 liters of wine, beer, alcopop. Accordingly, he was booked under Section 33 of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009.
The counsel for the petitioner argued that the house from which the alcohol was recovered is a dwelling house of 6 people (all above 25 years of age) and thus, as per Rule 20(a) of the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010, the quantities recovered were within permissible limits.
The Honorable Court cited Rule 20 of the Excise Rules and said:
‘Flowing from Rule 20, as the joint household of the Petitioner consists of six adults above 25 years of age, the permissible limit for possession of liquor at the Petitioner's house would be 54 liters of whisky, vodka, gin and rum, and 108 liters (6 times the individual limit) of beer, wine and alcopop. Therefore, there is prima facie no violation by the Petitioner of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009."
The Court thus opined that no offence is made out against the Petitioner under Section 33 of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 from the facts and circumstances of the case, since the quantity of liquor that has been seized from his residence falls within the maximum permissible limit that has been specified under Rule 20 of the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010.
The proceeding and the FIR were accordingly quashed.
"It is not necessary that a meticulous analysis of the case should be done before the trial to find out whether the case would end in conviction or acquittal. If it appears on a reading of the complaint and consideration of the allegations therein, in the light of the statement made on oath that the ingredients of the offence are disclosed, there would be no justification for the High Court to interfere," it said.
The crux of the case was that the rule says for an ‘individual.’ This was never clarified by the Excise Department and the Court has amply clarified this point with this Order. For ready reference, Rule 20 of the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010 reads as below –
"20. Maximum limit for retail sale and individual possession of liquor
The maximum quantities of intoxicants specified below, which for the purposes of the Act, may be sold by retail and possessed exclusively, by an individual not below the age of twenty five years in Delhi, shall be as follows:
(1) Indian Liquor and Foreign Liquor
(a) (i) Indian Liquor and Foreign Liquor (Whisky rum, gin, vodka, and brandy), except wine liqueur, beer, cider and alcopop - nine liters
(II) Wine, beer, liqueur, cider and alcopop - eighteen litres
(iii) Indian Liquor or Foreign Liquor one liter while entering into Delhi from other States - one litre while entering into Delhi from other States
(iv) Foreign Liquor - Two liters while entering Delhi from other countries."
Violation of this Rule entails an offence under Section 33 of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009, which is punishable with imprisonment for a maximum term of three years and a fine which is not less than Rs. 50,000/-, but may extend to Rs. 1,00,000/-.
Therefore, one can buy better quality, maturable wines and also keep better quality single malt whisky- a great news for Collectors. This is also excellent news for the Indian producers as more and more people would buy the top quality wines that may take a few years to mature in the cellar. One can also bring and store 2 liters of whisky bought at DutyFree Shops (or any reasonably priced stores overseas. Please keep the receipts for your records.
As they say, in our legal system, ‘ der hai andher nahin.’ Jai Ho to the judgement. Hallelujah !!
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