The Delhi government on Tuesday notified an amendment to the excise rules enabling the home delivery of liquor ordered online or through mobile apps. However, the date of implementation is yet to be announced.
The new rules also remove the additional fee on serving of alcohol in open spaces attached to hotels.
Liquor shops have been closed since the capital went into lockdown on April 20, and serpentine queues outside the vends the previous day led to scuffles with police who were trying to enforce social distancing.
Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Karnataka allow home delivery and app sales of liquor. Last year, the Supreme Court had observed that states should consider home delivery of liquor to prevent crowding at shops.
The Delhi Excise (Amendment) Rules 2021 notified in the Delhi Gazette on Tuesday allows for “Licence in Form L-13 for home delivery of Indian liquor and foreign liquor by ordering through mobile app or online web portal”.
One of the conditions includes that “no delivery shall be made to any hostel, office, and institution”.
Under flak from both the BJP and the Congress, a source in the Aam Aadmi Party government clarified: “L-13 is an existing licence which has been amended. No licence for L-13 or home delivery licence has been issued.”
The 2010 rules had provisions for orders through email and fax under L-13 which was never implemented.
In March, the Delhi government’s new liquor policy declared that the state would get out of liquor retail through its four PSUs — which own most of the capital’s liquor shops.
So far, there has been no move by any of these companies to tie up with food delivery apps to deliver alcohol.
The liquor industry welcomed the move.
Suresh Menon, secretary general of the International Spirits and Wines Association of India, told The Telegraph: “Maharashtra created such an enabling provision in May last year… The state has been able to realise its targeted revenue from liquor which is one of the major sources of its revenue. We will wait for the government to announce the policy to see what concerns retailers raise. Unlike the FMCG market, liquor is a turf market so there is a possibility of a retailer objecting to loss of customers from his area to a retailer in some other area... It would change the buying experience which currently involves jostling in queues and not being able to get a brand of one’s choice.”