Delhi HC disposes of some petitions challenging Special Corona Fee on alcohol levied by GNCTD

New Delhi [India], June 21 (ANI): The Delhi High Court disposed of a batch of petitions challenging Special Corona Fee on alcohol but granted liberty to some of the petitioners, interested in the recovery of the excess amount paid consequent to the notification, to file a civil suit for recovery before the appropriate forum or court.

A Division Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan disposed of a batch of petitions challenging government notification dated May 4 after the government withdrew it.

Delhi Government told the court that according to a fresh notification dated June 9, the earlier notification dated May 4, which is under challenge in this writ petition has been withdrawn and therefore nothing survives in this petition for adjudication.

However, some of the petitioners including one Shailendra Bhatnagar requested the court to decide his petition as it still survives for the academic purpose and so far as to question, whether the respondent had power, jurisdiction and authority to impose and levy Special Corona Fee on the MRP of liquor.

The HC said that question of law as raised in this petition shall be dealt with by this court in appropriate proceedings.

"However, if the petitioner is interested in the recovery of the excess amount paid consequent to the notification dated May 4, he is at liberty to file a Civil Suit for recovery of the amount in accordance with law before the appropriate forum/court," the court said.

The court was hearing various petitions including on public interest litigation filed by Lalit Valecha, who sought setting aside of notification of May 4 and to declare it illegal and bad in law.

Petitioner Advocate Lalit Valecha through this plea alleged that the 'unprecedented levy of Special Corona Fee by the Delhi government resulting in the overall increase in the maximum retail price of liquor by 70 per cent is arbitrary and uncalled for and bad in law. There is no justification or explanation of the sudden levying of the fee. The Special Corona Fee was not done when liquor vends were allowed to operate initially and the move was taken after there were the reports of huge queues and violation of social distancing norms outside the vends.

The plea has said that maximum retail price of liquor in Delhi includes all the taxes and duties that have already been imposed by the union and GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi) for the purpose of production, transport, wholesale and retail sale of liquor. "Increasing the maximum retail price by 70 per cent means of an executive order is illegal," it further read.

It has been alleged in the petition that a whopping 70 per cent Special Corona Fee is too much for the common man to bear especially when every person has been financially hit in the prevailing circumstances arising out of COVID-19.

One of the petition was filed by Praveen Gulati and three others through Advocates Bharat Gupta and Varun Tyagi, who has sought quashing of government's notification dated May 4 whereby the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010 have been amended and Special Corona Fee has been levied. The petitioner said that notification related to levying Special Corona Fee is highly arbitrary, irrational and, therefore, violates Article 14 of the Constitution.

The petitioner has also sought a direction to the government to refund the money so collected under the notification dated May 4. (ANI)