Udayavni Special

Liquor is not fundamental right, special 70 pc levy is “privilege” price: Delhi govt tells HC


PTI, May 28, 2020, 2:10 PM IST

New Delhi: Trade or consumption of liquor is not a fundamental right and the state has the authority to regulate its sale, the AAP government has told the Delhi High Court maintaining that its levying 70 percent of ‘special corona fees’ on MRP of all alcohol brands are a price for grant of such privilege to the public.

The Delhi government opposed a batch of petitions challenging its May 4 notification levying the ‘special corona fees’ on liquor and said that there was an element of privilege viz-a-viz sale/ dealing in liquor and the state is free to regulate it under the excise law.

“Accordingly the state is also free to impose and recover a price for grant of such privilege. Such imposition need not be either a tax or a fee yet less excise duty, or for that matter form part of Excise revenue,” it said.

“The present impugned levy (special corona fee) is nothing but a combination of the price of such privilege and cost of such regulation and supervision,” the Delhi government’s Department of Excise said in an affidavit filed in response to the petitions.

The pleas are listed for hearing in the court on Friday, May 29.

“A citizen, therefore, has no fundamental right to do trade or business in liquor or for that matter also to consume liquor. On the other hand, the 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,” the Delhi government said.

Besides Delhi, 10 other states, Assam, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal have imposed similar fees, it said.

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