The Delhi government has made a provision in its excise rules that paves way for home delivery of Indian and foreign brands of liquor in the national capital through mobile apps or online web portals.
The new amendment, one of many in the Delhi Excise (Amendment) Rules, 2021 that governs the trade of alcohol in the national capital, was published in the gazette notification on May 31.
Once rolled out, liquor vends possessing L-13 license, will be allowed to deliver liquor at the doorstep of people through orders received using mobile apps or online portals
“Licence in Form L-13 for home delivery of Indian liquor and Foreign Liquor by ordering through mobile app or online web portal. The licensee shall make delivery of liquor at the residences only if the order is received through the mobile app or online web portal,” said the notification. L-13 is one of the 39 types of liquor sale licenses that allows a retail vend of Indian Liquor for home delivery.
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Not any time sooner
The notification, that comes days after Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal approved the amendments to the excise rules, however, doesn’t mean that the residents can right away start ordering liquor to their homes.
Why? Because, there was a provision for home delivery of liquor before the latest amendments as well. But under the previous rules in the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 (Delhi Act 10 of 2010), L-13 license holder vends were allowed home delivery of liquor to the residences but through orders received through e-mail and by fax. The rule, officials said, was not practical and hardly anyone could avail of the facility. Therefore, there are hardly any vends who possess L-13 liquor sale licenses in the city.
The new rule has another rider. No delivery shall be made to any hostel, office, and institution says the notification. The delivery will be allowed strictly only to residences.
Officials said the new rule is just a provision that will take time to be rolled out. What remains to be seen, however, is if the government ties up with private food delivery platforms such as Swiggy and Zomato, already offering the liquor home-delivery services in many other states, or the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of Delhi comes up with its own web portal or a mobile app for the purpose. Also, liquor vends have to apply for the L-13 licenses to be eligible for home delivery.
Online food ordering and delivery platform Swiggy has reportedly been seeking permissions for home delivery of alcohol from licensed retailers in many states, including Delhi.
Many are linking the new provision to the COVID-19 restrictions but there was no official word from the Delhi government on this till this report was filed. Delhi, like the rest of India, had restricted liquor sales when it announced a COVID-19-included nationwide lockdown in March last year.
The Supreme Court had in May 2020 observed that the states should consider home delivery of liquor after alcohol shops witnessed overcrowding as soon as restrictions imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic were relaxed. Also, liquor traders had, last week, requested the Arvind Kejriwal government to allow home delivery of alcohol amid COVID-19 restrictions.
The liquor home-deliver facility is already in place in many other states such as West Bengal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, to name a few, where the known food delivery start-ups and e-commerce firms are into the business. In Kolkata, for example, Amazon and Big Basket deliver booze to residences since last year.
Swiggy started delivering alcohol in Kolkata and Siliguri in June last year. Swiggy also offers the facility in Jharkhand. Zomato, another food delivery app, offers the facility in Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha while LivingLiquidz mobile app delivers liquor in Mumbai, Thane, and Bangalore.“It is too early to say when the facility can be availed. This is just a tweak in an already existing provision for home delivery of liquor to residences,” said an official.