A public interest litigation has been filed through Advocates Lalit Valecha, Manu Prabhakar, Sadaf Iliyas Khan, Tushar Anand & Abhinav Meen, before the Delhi High Court challenging the “Special Corona Fees” which is being levied on the purchase of liquor in Delhi.
Petitioner, Lalit Valecha, has contended that levying 70% Fee over and above the Maximum Retail Price which is inclusive of all taxes, duties and levies, is without the authority of law and most arbitrary in nature.
The petition has stated that,
by virtue of Section 26 of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 only four “excise revenues” can be collected under the Act i.e. duty, license fee, label registration fee and import or export fee and there is no mention of any kind of ‘special fee’ that can be imposed and included as part of excise revenue.
It is added that as defined under the Delhi Excise Act, 2009, “MRP” means the maximum price at which the liquor may be sold to the ultimate consumer and shall include all taxes, freight, transport charges, commission or trade margin payable to dealers, and all charges towards marketing, delivery, packing, forwarding etc.
Thus, increasing the maximum retail price of liquor by 70% by means of an executive order is illegal and bad in law, it is asserted.
The Petitioner claimed that charging Special Corona Fee on liquor also violates Article 265 of the Constitution which lays down that No tax shall be levied or collected except by authority of law.
While claiming that the charging of Special Corona Fee violates the fundamental right of equality and equal protection, as enshrined under Article 14 of the Constitution, the Petitioner submitted that:
‘The impugned levy is only on retail sales that too on MRP, which means that the impugned fee has been levied directly on the Consumer of the Liquor, however, the provisions of the Act and Rules, does not lay down any such levy to be imposed on the Consumers. Hence, the impugned notification and consequently the levy i.e. Special Corona Fee is ultra-vires and is therefore, liable to be quashed and set aside.’
It has been claimed that the exceptionally high “Special Corona Fee” of 70% was only a “means to loot the persons consuming liquor in Delhi who are already financially hit with the limited income source in prevailing crisis and who have waited patiently for the liquor vends to re-open in Delhi after a gap of almost six weeks”.
The Petitioner has prayed for a direction to set aside the levy of Special Corona Fee on liquor or any other consumable product.