Manish Sisodia, Delhi excise scam
Sisodia is being probed by the ED and CBI in Delhi excise scam case I File photo

Delhi to revert to old liquor policy; private shops to shut down from August 1

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The Delhi government has decided to go back to the old regime of retail liquor sale in the city. The Excise Policy 2021-22, which was extended twice after March 31 for a period of two months each, will come to an end on July 31.

Only government-run liquor shops will operate from Monday, August 1, till the time a new excise policy is put in place, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said on Saturday amid a row over the new excise duty with the Centre.

The government’s move comes amid an ongoing investigation by Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and a face-off between lieutenant governor VK Saxena.

Also read: Delhi excise dept allows pvt shops to offer up to 25 pc discount on liquor MRP

468 private shops to shut down

“We have decided to end the new policy and have given directions for government shops to open. I have ordered the chief secretary to ensure that there should be no corruption through these shops and no illegal alcohol is sold in Delhi. I have also asked him to ensure that there will be no chaos during the transition period,” Sisodia said in a press conference.

The decision means 468 private liquor shops will shut from Monday, creating a major crisis in the availability of liquor in the national capital.

“Earlier, the annual revenue was Rs 6,000 crore but under the new policy, it was set to be Rs 9,500 crore. However, because this policy ended corruption, a ploy was hatched by these people to ensure that the new policy failed. One by one, they threatened private players by using the name of ED and CBI. And hence, many were forced to close down. Under the new policy, there could have been 850 shops (like earlier), but currently only 468 are operational,” Sisodia said.

Centre threatening pvt players, says Sisodia

“The Centre is using ED and CBI to warn the private players so that the new excise policy fails. They want to reduce liquor in Delhi and create a shortage,” he alleged while defending the new policy on liquor. He also alleged that like Gujarat, the BJP wants to promote the sale of spurious, off-duty liquor by threatening Delhi’s shop-owners and officers.

Citing data from BJP-ruled areas on how many people one shop caters to — Gurgaon 4,166 people, Noida 1,390, Bangalore 12,189, and Goa 761 – Sisodia said that “in Delhi, even if all shops reopen, the figure would have been 22,707. With 468 shops, it is one shop for 41,192 people.”

“The Delhi government had to come out with a new excise policy. Before this policy, government shops used to sell liquor. Private shops also existed but they were given to relatives,” Sisodia added.

Centre-AAP govt tussle

The strained ties between the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi worsened last week when Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22, holding Sisodia, in-charge of the excise department, accountable.

Right after this move, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal lashed out at the Centre, saying the L-G was making “false allegations” and leaders of the AAP were “not afraid of jail”.

Also read: Manish Sisodia will soon be arrested in fake case: Kejriwal

The L-G’s move follows a report submitted by chief secretary Naresh Kumar on the matter. The report, which officials said was submitted on July 8, accuses Sisodia of providing undue benefits to liquor vend licencees in lieu of “kickbacks” and “commissions” and the money being used in the recent Punjab elections.

(With inputs from agencies)

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