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On-shop licence only after scrutiny

Liquor retailers would be a happy lot this year, as the excise department is mulling to grant on-shop licences soon.

The permits would, however, come with a rider — police checks will be conducted to find out if the shops fulfil all criteria and do not pose any security problem. The department had abruptly stopped issuing on-shop licences last year because of law and order problems.

Nunulal Choudhary, the assistant commissioner of the department, told The Telegraph that they were waiting for a report from the district police regarding the proposals of on-shop licences. Sources said since last year, more than 40 applications for on-shop licences were pending with the department.

An on-shop licence allows a retailer to sell liquor as well as serve it to customers. The licence allows a shop-owner to have a small space near the facility where people can consume liquor after buying it.

“The department stopped issuing on-shop licences last year because of law and order problems. The licences for 2011-12 were not renewed once they expired on March 31 last year. The shops were given off-shop licences, allowing them to just sell liquor and operate as off-shops. The one-year licence period would end on March 31, 2013. At present, the department is waiting for the report of the district administration and police in connection with the applications. The department will issue on-shop licences for 2013-14 based on the report,” Choudhary said.

“There is a provision in the State Excise Act for issuing on-shop licences. The department had stopped issuing the licences last year without citing any specific reasons. The retail shopkeepers kept on sending applications, along with requisite documents,” an official said.

The annual licence fee to run a liquor shop is Rs 73.8 lakh. To obtain an on-shop licence, an extra 10 per cent is charged by the department. The official added: “According to Section 45 of the State Excise Act, any on-shop cannot have a temple, school, ghat and a public transport stand within a 50-m radius. There were a few cases of corruption with some retailers allegedly bribing some excise officials.”

“The abrupt suspension of on-shop licences had affected our business. The plan to grant the permit is a welcome step,” said a retail shopkeeper.