The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought the Delhi government’s stand on a fresh petition filed by an Employees Union, challenging the New Excise Policy 2021-22, announced by the Delhi Government in June this year.
The matter was listed before the Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, wherein a notice has been issued and the matter is slated for August 27.
The Delhi Consumer Cooperative Wholesale Store Karamchari Union, an employee union consisting of more than 350 employees of DCCWSL, filed the petition through Advocate Satya Sabharwal.
The petition contended that DCCWSL consists of about 75 liquor vends holding licences since 1985.
It sought formulation of relevant provisions with respect to employment of existing employees being affected by the said policy.
In addition, the petition prayed for quashing of the E-tender notice dated June 28 inviting e-bids for grant of zonal licences of retail vends; and further to restrain the Government from taking any action in furtherance of the said notice. The plea also sought quashing of the said policy as being illegal, arbitrary and violative of Delhi Excise Act, 2009.
The petitioner union was represented by Senior Counsel Maninder Singh, while the Delhi Government was represented by Senior Counsels Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Rahul Mehra. Mr Singh submitted that the employees are solely dependent on the sale of liquor from the vends held by the Delhi Consumers’ Cooperative Wholesale Store Ltd (DCCWSL), a society controlled by the Delhi Government.
He further submitted that as per the New Excise Policy, the state-owned stores or companies will not be granted retail licenses, meaning thereby that these employees will lose their source of income.
Per contra, Dr Singhvi alleged it to be a ‘proxy’ litigation, attempting to stall the policy.
At the outset, earlier this year, the Delhi Government constituted a committee of Group of Ministers (GoM) under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, and comprising ministers Kailash Gehlot and Satyendra Jain, to finalize a new excise policy for Delhi for the year 2021-22. The GoM made an announcement on March 22’2021 on formulation of new excise policy. Pursuant to the report by the GoM, the new Excise Policy was introduced by the Delhi Government in June’ 2021; however, the policy was released in public domain on July 5’2021, after direction of the Court.
On June 28, 2021, the Delhi Government floated a tender, inviting e-bids for grant of 32 zonal retail licenses for the year 2021-22 through e-tendering process in the form of L-7Z/L-7V for sale of Indian and Foreign Liquor in the region of NCT of Delhi, on the basis of the newly approved policy. The last date for submission of bids was July 20’2021.
Ever since the Delhi Government announced the New Excise Policy for the year 2021-22, a series of petitions have been filed before the Delhi High Court alleging the policy to be illegal, arbitrary and violative of Delhi Excise Act, 2009; which, Dr. Singhvi alleges, is a ‘full-scale assault’ on the Government. The Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh had, however, refused to stay the new Excise Policy in a batch of similar pleas.