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Delhi to start allowing online alcohol ordering; other states reluctant


The Delhi state government opened the door for app-based home delivery of liquor in an amendment of its excise law on May 25. This relaxation comes at a time when most states in normal circumstances do not allow home delivery of liquor, even during the current lockdowns.

The new rules provide for a “licence in Form L-13 for home delivery of Indian liquor and Foreign Liquor by ordering through mobile app or online web portal,” it said L-13 is a freshly introduced liquor delivery license for which the fee structure and other details are forthcoming — the state government has not yet notified the date when these amendments will come into force. Delivery can be done as long as the order is taken on a website or an app, and can only be done to residential addresses (no hostels, institutes or offices).

Speaking to MediaNama, Prasanna Natarajan, founder of liquor delivery app HipBar welcomed the amendment.”Even though other states already have tech assisted home delivery, as the national capital, Delhi will show the way for the rest of the states who are actively considering it,” he said.

Other states slow on home delivery

. Even in the midst of lockdowns in 2020, only a handful of states allowed it — Jharkhand, Orissa, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal for instance; in some of those states, as Moneycontrol reported. Headaches with the police and the local administration led to delivery players Swiggy and Zomato choosing to pull out of the activity altogether.

Liquor sale is heavily taxed and regulated in India in most states, and even in places like Karnataka where the law doesn’t explicitly rule out home delivery, officials have resisted attempts to let tipplers get drinks delivered at home, arguing that online sales weren’t recognized by the state. HipBar has appealed the ban up to the Supreme Court; a date has not yet been set for a hearing.

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And then there’s states like Tamil Nadu, where a state monopoly on sale of alcohol means that the government relies extensively on revenues from sale of alcohol. However, there’s political considerations in play: there’s bipartisan support for (the idea of) prohibition, so there may well be political discomfort with something like home delivery, which would make purchasing liquor that much more convenient.

Natarajan was optimistic, though, that more states would warm up to the idea. “Even the Courts have taken a liberal view on this, after considering the pros of home delivery over conventional counter sales during the pandemic,” he said.

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Written By

I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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