Huge discounts on alcohol not in public interest, Delhi gov’t tells HC

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Stating responsible drinking and banning illicit liquor trade as its main objective, the Delhi government told the High Court on Friday that huge discounts offered by a few liquor stores were causing ‘distortions in the market’ as people were pushed and pulled towards buying liquor from them while other licensees suffered losses. Huge discounts are not in the public interest, the government has said.

In a written response to the petition challenging its decision to ban the issuance of rebates or rebates by alcohol retail vendors, the government submitted data relating to sales made in December, January and February and informed the court that there was “nearly double the increase in February 2022 compared to the three-year average monthly sale”.

“For the year 2018-19, the average monthly sales in lakh liters was 136.7 (lakh liters). For the year 2019-2020, the average monthly sale of alcohol was 132.11 (lakh) liters However, for the month of February 2022, the sale was 245.08 lakh litres,” the government said.

In February 2018, a total of 132.22 lakh liters were sold; in February 2019, the number stood at 107.35 lakh litres, but in February 2022, it rose to 245.08 lakh litres, according to government data. He said the increase in sales cannot be attributed solely to an increase in consumption and that he cannot be aware of such behavior “which is contrary to the reforms” he has made.

“Smuggling risks cannot be ruled out because the drinking pattern cannot increase due to individual consumption, because people cannot start drinking double their usual capacity overnight,” the government said. .

He added that the ethical and social responsibility of government to its citizens is as important as securing revenue from the alcohol trade. The government, in its report, also presented stock data to show that there was no fair distribution between the three main wholesalers and retailers.

“A few retailers, perhaps in agreement and collusion with peer wholesalers, bought up the bulk of the stock for their sales and began to give huge discounts on the cost of sales made by other licensees L -7Z,” he said.

On February 28, the Commissioner (Excise) banned the offering of rebates, stating that the gathering of large crowds outside liquor stores due to rebates caused a public order problem and also caused inconvenience to the local population of the region. The order also stated that such discounts led to unsound market practices.

The court heard the motions challenging the government on Thursday and asked the state to file its response by Thursday evening. The court has scheduled the case for the next hearing on Monday.

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