Rajasthan High Court rejects liquor salesman’s plea asking for tax relief for second wave of Covid

The Jaipur High Court of Rajasthan court dismissed the alcohol seller’s plea seeking waiver of annual warranty fees and tax relief for the second period of the Covid wave.

No less than 120 petitions have been filed in which it has been submitted that due to the various lockdown orders, licensed stores have practically remained closed for more than 395 hours out of 680 hours. It is specified that in April and May 2021, stores remained closed 64.28% of the time, and in June 2021, they remained closed 67.74% of the time. It is further argued that allowing liquor stores to open from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. was completely impractical, as in the morning there is no sale of alcohol and the sale has been drastically reduced.

MRN Mathur, Senior Counsel, argued that the criteria should be reasonable and related to the purpose. It is alleged that the reduction or reduction in the amount of the annual guarantee by only 30%, as provided by the respondents, is totally impracticable and does not take into account the above-mentioned circumstances. While the reserve price for store auctions is set by neighborhood, a 30% reduction is generalized for all stores in Rajasthan. Therefore, the benefit should be every district wise. Senior learned counsel further argued that the adopted measure is irrelevant and that setting the opening times for liquor stores from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. for five days of the week is utterly unrealistic and unreasonable. It is argued that no one comes to buy in stores in the wee hours of the morning and in such circumstances the state should compensate dealers proportionately according to the foreclosure and the actual alcohol that has been lifted should be the criterion for payment of a first quarter of the annual guarantee amount and the annual guarantee amount should be reduced accordingly instead of continuing to demand payment on the basis of the offer proposed by the petitioners earlier.

Mr. KK Sharma learned that the senior adviser submitted that although applicants submitted their offers during the Covid pandemic in 2020-21, no one could contemplate the stipulation of a pandemic until March 2021. Even the government state did not put any force majeure clause and an arbitrary and stubborn approach was adopted by the state. When the reduction in sale reaches 69.62%, the request for continued payment of the amount for which the alcohol has not been sifted or sold is totally unjustified.

The single bench of Judge Sanjeev Prakash Sharma said the loss caused to them cannot be put on the shoulders of the government because, with their eyes open, they submitted higher offers and accepted the terms of the policy. They can no longer turn around and claim in this Court a right of mandamus against the state.

“This Court considers it appropriate, however, to observe that the granting of a rebate upon payments is an exclusive discretion of the State and falls within the administrative competence of the government of the State which defined the excise policy. The state government would therefore be in the best position to decide whether a further reduction / rebate should be given to sellers of alcohol. Leaving the possibility for petitioners to present their case before the state government, this Court is firmly convinced that subpoena jurisdiction cannot be invoked for such claims, ”said the court.

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