Amid the ongoing tussle between Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government and Lieutenant General Vinai Kumar Saxena, the Delhi government is now set to bring the old liquor policy back. The decision will be implemented from August 1 onwards once the current policy expires on July 31, 2022. The re-implementation of the old liquor policy is not only going to affect the private vendors in the national capital but will also have an impact on Delhiites. As many as 468 private liquor shops will be shut in the national capital from Monday onwards as the term of their licences will expire. The excise policy, introduced in November 2021, ran into rough weather after Saxena ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). With the policy, the Delhi govt aimed to bring down corruption by handing over the sale of liquor to private players.
The strained ties between the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi worsened when Saxena held Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, in-charge of the excise department, accountable.
Right after this move, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal lashed out at the Centre, saying the Lieutenant Governor was making “false allegations” and leaders of the AAP were “not afraid of jail”.
The Lt Governor’s move follows a report submitted by Delhi 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.
On July 25, the Delhi Congress staged a protest outside Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s residence here, demanding his resignation over alleged violation of rules and procedural lapses in the city government’s excise policy. Congress leaders and workers gathered in Patparganj, holding banners and raised slogans against Sisodia and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Delhi Congress president Anil Kumar alleged that Sisodia, the minister in-charge of the Delhi government’s excise department, is directly responsible for “corrupt deals” with liquor contractors.
With the re-implementation of the Delhi government’s old liquor policy, both private and government agencies would operate the liquor stores. The four govt agencies include —Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC), Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC), Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation (DSCSC), and Delhi Consumer’s Cooperative Wholesale Store (DCCWS). Under the old liquor policy, the Delhi government had 864 liquor shops, 475 of which were run by the government agencies and 389 were run by private players. With the policy coming back, Delhi would once again witness 21 dry days as compared to 3 dry days in the new policy, with no discounts on alcohol.