Assistant Commissioner of Excise, Delhi Government, has informed the Delhi High Court that the Delhi Excise Act, and the Rules framed thereunder, does empower the State Government to not only regulate the sale/purchase of liquor but also to formulate different rules which are specific to the regulation of liquor.
The information has been given under an affidavit in a PIL filed by Praveen Gulati challenging the decision of the Delhi Government to impose a Special Corona fee of 70% on the sale of liquor.
'There's an element of privilege vis-a-vis the sale/dealing in liquor or for that matter the consumption of liquor, which the State is free to accord or regulate as per the State Excise law. Accordingly, State is also free to impose and recover a price for grant of such privilege', the affidavit states.
Such grant of privilege for the sale/consumption/regulation of liquor, the affidavit submits, can be done through subordinate legislation or administrative orders.
The Special Corona fee, which has been imposed during the unprecedented circumstances posed by the COVID19, is nothing but a combination of price towards the grant of privilege and the cost of regulation/supervision.
The affidavit also highlights that apart from Delhi, 10 other States have also imposed a similar levy on alcohol.
While highlighting that sections 26 and 28 of the Delhi Excise Act do not apply to the present case, the affidavit submits that the MRP of liquor is not being raised and the same is only being used as the basis for calculating the amount of the present Special Corona fee.
In the present PIL, the Petitioner has argued that the bare reading of the said Section 26 does not contemplate generating revenue under a new category of 'Special Corona Fee'.
It is further submitted by the Petitioner that the government wrongfully invoked section 81 of the Delhi Excise Act to charge this new fee. It is claimed that section 81(2)(g) is merely a procedural and regulatory provision which derives its powers from the other substantive provisions of the Act.
Since neither section 26 nor Rules 152 and 154 provide for any such category, the Petitioner submits, the Delhi Government cannot invoke section 81 to generate revenue under the head of 'Special Corona Fee.'
Click Here To Download Affidavit