Excise Policy: HC asks Delhi govt to respond to plea challenging e-tender

·3-min read

New Delhi, Jul 20 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Tuesday termed as 'half baked' the criteria fixed by the Delhi government for grant of licences of retail vends of liquor here through electronic bids.

The high court was hearing a plea challenging its e-tender notice, prescribing the procedure to be followed for inviting zone wise electronic bids for grant of 32 licences of retail vends of liquor in the national capital “You cannot leave everything to uncertainty. If you expect a person to enter into an agreement, he should know what he was getting into,” observed a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh.

“It is a totally arbitrary exercise. Your criteria is half baked,” the bench orally observed.

The bench issued notice and asked the authorities to file a reply within four weeks on the petition challenging the terms and conditions of the e-tender.

The petition, which has now been listed for hearing on August 27, was filed Robin Chaudhary on behalf of retailers selling liquor in Delhi. Senior advocates Rajiv Nayar and Sandeep Sethi, representing the petitioner, submitted that the terms of the tender were unreasonable and clarified that they were not challenging the new excise policy.

They said the bidder does not know what is the profit margin.

The advocates said they know the whole sale price but it is not clear at what price they will have to sell liquor.

The petition was opposed by the Delhi government counsel saying the policy is an institutional multi layered decision that led to the tender.

Tender comes under the policy itself, and the policy is already under challenge before a bench headed by the Chief Justice, the counsel said adding that it is an attempt to scuttle the policy.

Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Rahul Mehra for Delhi government said the bench headed by the Chief Justice before whom the other matters relating to policy challenge are pending has not granted any interim relief on similar petitions with similar prayers and grounds.

While the present petition was listed for hearing before the Chief Justice’s bench which was not holding court today, it was mentioned before the bench headed by Justice Sanghi and taken up for hearing as the bids were to be open at 5PM.

Regarding the petitioner’s plea for interim relief, the court noted the statement made by Singhvi and Mehra that so far as this petitioner is concerned, in case he is not satisfied with fixation of MRP of liquor by the excise commissioner and wishes to withdraw from the tender, he would be allowed to do so within three days of fixing of the MRP.

The counsel said he would be allowed to withdraw his Rs 30 crore deposited at the time of bidding for the tender.

Noting this statement, the court said no further interim orders are called for and disposed of the application.

The Delhi government was also represented through standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi.

Several petitions have been filed challenging the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 alleging that it was illegal, unfair, arbitrary and violative of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009.

They have also sought to quash the June 28 e-tender notice of Delhi government, prescribing the procedure to be followed for inviting zone wise electronic bids for grant of 32 zonal licences of retail vends of liquor for supply of Indian and foreign liquor brands in the national capital.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh had refused to stay the new Excise Policy which, according to retail shop owners, will lead to cartelisation and had said it will consider this plea on the next date. PTI SKV SKV RKS RKS

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