Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Dec 25:
In big jolt to the Odisha government’s new Excise policy, the Orissa High Court in a significant verdict has ruled that beer parlours in the state cannot be converted to ‘on shops’ for India Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) under the existing Excise laws.
It further ruled that beer parlours located at different locations cannot be provided with ‘wine shop license’.
While several cases have been filed with the High Court in the matter, a division bench comprising of Justice Indrajit Mohanty and Dr Justice D P Choudhury on Thursday in its verdict rejected government plans for converting beer parlours to on shops for serving IMFL.
The High Court has also quashed government’s proposal for offering model wine shop license to luxury hotels, shopping malls and market complexes for serving beer and low alcohol drinks. No beer parlour can sell IMFL under the 2015-16 Excise policy the court ruled in its verdict.
The court has cited in its judgment that beer parlours can only sell beer at beer parlours in accordance with earlier rules.
Notably, the state government on March 3, 2015 had announced a new Excise policy for 2015-16. All beer parlours in the state were asked to sell IMFL as ‘on shops’ starting April 1, 2015. Conditions were laid down that these parlours would be required to make arrangements for selling food and drinks.
The new Excise policy had clearly spelled that unless beer parlours made arrangements for selling IMFL on the lines of ‘on shop’ with attached restaurants, licenses of those will be cancelled. Also rules were framed for allowing sale of beer and low alcohol drinks in luxury hotels, shopping malls and market complexes through model wine shops.
Challenging the government’s new Excise policy Kumudini Panigrahi, Laxman Samantray and many others had filed multiple petitions.
Earlier, admitting these petitions, the High Court while clamping an interim stay on the state government’s order for converting all beer parlours to IMFL ‘on shops’, had ordered for renewing of licenses of applicants (beer parlour proprietors).
While the government was earning Rs 2.50 lakh annually as license fees from each beer parlour, it had planned to earn Rs 8 lakh as license fees from each on converting them as IMFL ‘on shops’.