'Allow clubs, hotels to serve liquor till 3am in Delhi'

Allow clubs, restaurants to serve liquor till 3 am in national capital: Delhi govt panel

The panel, set up by Deputy CM Manish Sisodia in September, has suggested lowering legal drinking age to 21 from the 25 in Delhi

A restaurant manager serves drinks at a pub after they reopened amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Delhi, India, September 12, 2020. Credit: REUTERS

Restaurants and clubs in the national capital may soon be allowed to serve liquor till 3 am, with a Delhi government panel suggesting this among several other measures as part of "excise reforms", official sources said on Wednesday.

It has also recommended that retail liquor licenses other than to government corporation be allotted through lottery system once in every two years, a move that will allow flexibility in rules for new private liquor shops in the city.

The panel, set up by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in September, has suggested lowering legal drinking age to 21 from the 25 in the national capital.

Sisodia had constituted the committee under the chairmanship of the excise commissioner to recommend measures to increase excise revenue and ways to simplify liquor pricing as well as boost the hotel and restaurant industry.

Restuarants and clubs having an excise license can currently serve liquor to their guests till 1 am in the national capital. At present, there is 24x7 excise licence offered to hotels, but with hefty fee.

"In its report, the committee has recommended that restuarants and clubs should be allowed to serve till 3 am. It will also increase the government's excise revenue. The Delhi government's law department is examining the report," an official source told PTI.

According to the recommendations, the number of dry days should be reduced to three in parity with the neighbouring states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

It stated that there should be three liquor vends in each of 272 municipal wards in the national capital totalling 816 vends, besides one country liquor vend in each of 70 assembly constituencies. At Indira Gandhi International Aiport, six liquor vends should be set up, the committee said in its recommendations.

"Ensuring equitable access of liquor supply to all residents in NCT of Delhi so that there are no un-served and under-served areas by ward-wise allocation of vends," it stated

On liquor pricing, the committee said, "L-1 licensees (a license that is granted for the wholesale supply of Indian liquor) may be at liberty to declare the maximum retail price (MRP) instead of ex-distillery price (EDP) with fixed excise duty, VAT as applicable, assured retail margin of 8 per cent of the MRP and the remaining amount left of MRP would be wholesale Price for the manufacturer."

Sources said that it also recommended hat brand registration fee should also be rationalised, a move that will encourage start-ups in the national capital.

They said that at present, brand registration fee is almost the same for prominent companies and new company.

If brand registration fee is rationalised, it will encourage start-up and they will not have to pay hefty fee which is applicable for prominent liquor, wine and beer brands.