Following complaints of congestion outside vents and the ongoing danger of COVID-19, the excise commissioner of Delhi advised liquor outlets in the city on Monday to cease giving discounts and rebates on alcohol brands. In an order, the government urged licensees to stop offering concessions, rebates, or discounts and threatened action against shops that did.
Crowds were observed thronging the vends as booze stores offered discounts and incentives such as ‘buy one get one free.’ There were also reports of law-and-order difficulties, and police were sent in to quell the mob. People in Jagatpuri, where a liquor store refused discounts, had lately resorted to throwing stones, breaking the shop’s glass panes, and injuring the employees.
“It has been brought to the notice of the excise department that as a result of discounts being offered by the licensees through their retail vends, instances were reported of large crowds gathering outside the liquor stores leading to law-and-order problems and causing inconvenience to locals,” the order by the excise commissioner stated.
As a result of liquor retailers lowering prices on various brands of alcohol by up to 40%, many consumers began acquiring and storing significant quantities, believing that the programmes would be discontinued at the end of the current fiscal year. According to the ruling, the Excise Department also learned that the programmes and discounts given at liquor stores were contributing to “unhealthy” market practises. The Covid pandemic is not ended, and the risk of infection remains, according to the directive, which adds that large crowds are expected to exacerbate the issue in Delhi.
“Commissioner Excise hereby orders that all L7Z licensees shall neither give concession, rebate or discount on the maximum retail price of liquor and hereby directs all L7Z licensees to strictly abide by Rule 54(3) of Delhi Excise Rules 2010. If any such instance of discount/rebate/ concession is brought to the knowledge of the undersigned, action as per Rules and Act as well as penal action as per tender document will be taken against defaulting licensees,” read the order.
The intent of the government in allowing discounts by retailers was to promote consumer choice and healthy competition and determination of price by market forces, it said. “The discounting of this nature was not the objective of the government while permitting the discounts in the new excise regime. The licensees are seen indulging in various promotional activities through social media and banners, hoardings outside the stores which is a non-permissible activity under the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 and Delhi Excise Rules, 2010.”
Last year, the Delhi Government adopted the Excise Policy 2021-22, as well as the terms and circumstances for the award of several kinds of licences. On November 17, 2021, the policy went into force. According to the Excise Department’s tender document for issuing 849 retail liquor licences, licensees are permitted to provide a rebate/discount/concession on the maximum retail price of liquor set by the Excise Commissioner. According to the ruling, under clause 15.2 of the tender document, the Department of Excise may, in its sole discretion, but without any obligation to do so, update, revise, or supplement the information in the tender document issued last year.