The Delhi government's excise department has allowed private shops to offer up to 25 percent discount on the maximum retail price (MRP) of liquor. In February, the government had prohibited discounts and schemes being offered by liquor stores in view of violations of Covid-related guidelines and unhealthy market practices.
An order issued by the excise commissioner of Delhi on Friday stated that the government has recommended that a rebate or discount up to 25 percent of the MRP will be allowed on the sale of liquor in the jurisdiction of NCT of Delhi with strict compliance of Rule 20 of the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010.
"The Commissioner, Excise, under Section 4 of the Delhi Excise Act directed that the licensees can offer discount or concessions up to a maximum of 25 percent of the MRP of liquor sale in Delhi," the order said.
The licensees will strictly abide by the terms and conditions of the license and if any violation is noticed, then strict penal action will be taken against them under the Delhi Excise Act and other rules. However, in the overall public interest, the government reserves the right to withdraw the discount at any time. The government will not be under any obligation whatsoever and it will be non-binding on the government to allow discount on sale of liquor in Delhi," it added.
In view of violations of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) guidelines related to COVID-19 and 'distortion of market' due to 'unregulated discounts' offered by some licensees, the excise department had on February 28 discontinued rebates and concessions on the sale of liquor in Delhi, the order stated.
With liquor shops giving discounts and offers like buy one, get one free', crowds were seen thronging liquor vends in many parts of the city in February. Some law and order issues were also reported with police being called in to control mobs. As a result of liquor stores slashing prices of different brands of alcohol by up to 40 percent, many people had started purchasing and hoarding large quantities fearing the schemes may be withdrawn after the end of the current financial year in March.
The excise department had withdrawn the discounts and schemes being offered by the licensees citing law and order problems and inconvenience to locals. Some licensees had approached the Delhi High Court against this order. The intent of the government behind allowing discounts by retailers was to promote consumer choice and healthy competition and determination of price by market forces, the excise department had said defending the move to withdraw discounts.
"The licensees were seen indulging in various promotional activities through social media and banners, hoardings being placed outside stores, which is a non-permissible activity under the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 and the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010," it said.
The Delhi government had approved the Excise Policy 2021-22 along with the terms and conditions for granting various categories of licenses last year. The policy came into effect on November 17, 2021. According to the tender document issued by the excise department for granting 849 retail liquor licenses, the licensees are free to give rebate/ discount/ concession on the MRP of liquor fixed by the excise commissioner.