Delhi govt defends in HC decision to impose ‘special corona fee’ on liquor

ANI

May 28, 2020

Coronavirus

National

3 min

New Delhi [India], May 28 (ANI): Delhi government has defended in Delhi High Court its decision to impose ‘special corona fee’ on liquor saying that it has the power to regulate the sale, purchase, and consumption of liquor in the national capital.
Delhi government, in its reply submitted before the High Court on Wednesday over a petition challenging the ‘special corona fee’ on liquor, said that the plea is without merit.
In its reply, it cited the example of 10 other states namely Assam, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, which have imposed similar levy.
“That apart, cost of regulation and supervision in form of regulatory and supervisory fee can also be charged under State Excise law for regulating and/ or supervising the various facets of sale, purchase, possession, etc of liquor,” Delhi government said in its reply.
It said that the present set of petitions has been founded upon a clear misconception of law.
“To begin with, the very object of a State Excise Levy is liquor, which unlike objects under other fiscal statutes, is dangerous and injurious to health and is, therefore, an article which is res extra commercium (outside commerce). Citizen, therefore, has no fundamental right to do trade or business in liquor or for that matter also to consume liquor,” the reply said.
“On the other hand, State has the authority and jurisdiction to regulate (including prohibit totally or partially) such trade and commerce as well as to regulate the sale, purchase and consumption of liquor,” it said.
It said that the Delhi Excise Act, 2009, and the Rules framed thereunder, also empowers a State to accord the privilege of a peculiar nature and also to regulate/ supervise the sale, purchase, and consumption of liquor in Delhi, particularly, in view of the lockdown measures.
The government submitted that also in exercise of the power vested under several sections of the Rules have been amended and the impugned levy has been imposed; which is nothing but a combination of price towards grant of privilege and the cost of regulation/ supervision.
“Moreover, the directives issued by the Excise Commissioner dated April 4, 2020, to all the concerned vends, also in effect, modify the terms and conditions of such licensee in terms of Section 11 of the Act and Rule 34 of the Rules,” it said.
The court was hearing various petitions, including public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one Lalit Valecha, which sought setting aside of the notification of May 4 and to declare the ‘special corona fee’ illegal and bad in law. (ANI)

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