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Tipplers beware! These liquor brands may soon go off the shelves in Delhi

Delhi Excise Department has not renewed the liquor sale licence of three big firms and distributors

People buy liquor at a store at Azadpur area, in New Delhi

Representative Image (PTI)

BS Web Team New Delhi

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The Delhi government has rejected applications for renewing the liquor sale licence of three liquor firms and distributors, Pernod Ricard, Brindco and IndoSpirits. This comes after the Delhi Excise Department charged these companies with corruption and cartelisation while implementing the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.

The authorities said that Pernod Ricard had not fulfilled the conditions for granting an L-1 licence under the Delhi Excise Act, 2009. The excise department of the government of the national capital territory of Delhi had last week decided not to renew the sales licence of Pernod Ricard.

An application from Pernod Ricard was received in September 2022 and was not accepted then. Following this, the liquor major went to the court, which directed the excise department to formally take a decision. That application has now been rejected, news agency PTI reported.

Pernod Ricard India, in a statement, said it will "challenge through the due process the recent decision" by the excise authorities to deny this operating licence.

Pernod Ricard has the right to appeal against the order before the higher authorities or take a legal course.

Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had arrested Pernod Ricard's executive Benoy Babu in November last year in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy-related money laundering case.

The trial court had denied bail to Babu and other accused in the case. The bail matter is still pending before the Delhi High Court.

Regarding Babu, the trial court had said the oral and documentary evidence suggested he was the brain behind the decision taken by the accused company, Pernod Ricard, for furnishing corporate guarantees of Rs 200 crore for the loans availed by other members of the cartel from HSBC Bank.

The Delhi government decided in November 2021 to exit the liquor vending business and hand it over to private companies. However, in August 2022, it reverted to the old policy. According to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the new policy promoted cartelisation and exorbitant retail and wholesale margins.

In March, former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia was arrested by the ED in connection with the Delhi liquor policy. He is still in jail. Last week, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the policy.

Which liquor brands will not be available in Delhi?
  • Blender's Pride
  • Glenlivet
  • Chivas Regal
  • Jameson
  • Johnnie Walker
  • Jack Daniel's
  • Jacob's Creek
  • Absolut Vodka
  • 100 Pipers
  • Ballantine's
  • Royal Stag
  • Smirnoff
  • Jacob's Creek
  • Beefeater
  • Monkey 47

What is the alleged Delhi liquor scam?

In 2021, the Delhi government introduced a new excise policy for liquor. Under the policy, the state government allowed private vendors and shops to sell liquor. The main aim was to improve customer experience and stop black marketing.

Home delivery of liquor was also allowed under this policy. The shops were also allowed to stay open till 3 AM. The vendors were free to offer discounts. As a result of the policy, the Delhi government reported a 27 per cent jump in revenue income to Rs 8,900 crore.

However, before the policy could be fully implemented, it had to be examined by chief secretary Naresh Kumar. In July 2022, Kumar submitted the report to Lt Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, accusing Sisodia of providing undue benefits to liquor licensees as kickbacks and commissions. The report further alleged that the funds were used by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Punjab Assembly elections in February last year.

It said that undue benefits were given to certain vendors while granting licenses. The vendors allegedly paid bribes for it.

The report also alleged that Sisodia gave undue benefits to liquor licensees by revising the rates of foreign liquor and removing the levy of an import pass fee of Rs 50 per case of beer.

Saxena asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the issue. Soon, Sisodia announced that the policy would be cancelled because the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was using investigating agencies it controls to intimidate vendors. 

The Delhi Police Economic Offences Wing (EOW) also conducted an investigation. It asked for documents and details about the distribution of liquor licences to vendors from the excise department.

Separately, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) launched a probe into the Delhi liquor scam. It stated that a certain "South Group" paid Rs 100 crore kickbacks to AAP for its Goa election campaign.

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First Published: Apr 19 2023 | 10:11 AM IST

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