Poll code: Excise dept suspends 600 licenses

The action is warranted by serious violations like loose sales, selling alcohol beyond the stipulated time, disproportionate stock, misuse of liquor, overpricing and other charges. Representational Image

Following the election commission’s directions, the excise department suspended 600 plus liquor license in the state including 300 in Bengaluru.

President of Karnataka Federation of Wine Merchants Association Govindraj Hegde said the excise department has been targeting liquor outlets soon after the Model Code of Conduct came into force.

“We didn’t do anything illegal. We gave a parcel of 180 ml liquor bottle to a person and our license has been suspended,” Hegde said. “Earlier, officials used to book a case under Breach of Licenses Conditions (BLC) and impose a fine, but now they suspend the license straight away.”

He said more than 1000 licenses are suspended in the state, including 360 in Bengaluru.

President of Karnataka Federation of Wine Merchants Association-Bangalore district Ramachandra suggested the excise department might as well shut down all the liquor outlets until the elections as they do during local body polls.

“But the problem is, they want liquor to their voters,” he said. "Even the state government can shut down the business altogether to let us consider doing something else, but we don’t know why they harass us like this on a daily basis.”

The trade body even registered a complaint with the Election Commission accusing the excise authorities of acting ruthlessly by suspending their license.

But excise commissioner Munish Moudgil explained to Deccan Herald that licenses are not suspended on flimsier grounds. The action is warranted by serious violations like loose sales, selling alcohol beyond the stipulated time, disproportionate stock, misuse of liquor, overpricing and other charges.

He also said the licenses of 600 outlets have been suspended, including around 300 in Bengaluru. “We’ve to be strict during the elections and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to violations,” Moudgil said.

“After the elections, we’ll reinstate the licenses and give traders another chance with the undertaking that they will not break the rules anymore,” he added.

The commissioner said there were 1,200 cases against liquor vends when he took charge, but there were no suspensions. “But we want liquor outlets to be more disciplined during the elections. They’re not our enemies but our friends and partners,” he said.

*Number of suspensions due to Breach of Licenses Conditions (BLC) violations -600 +

*Number of licenses suspended in Bengaluru -300+

*Reasons for suspension: loose sales, sales beyond the stipulated time, mismatch of stock, misuse of liquor, overpricing etc.

*Wine Merchants Association demands suspension of liquor businesses until elections

*Lodges complaint with the EC

*Excise department wants to be ruthless against violations

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