Wine shops begin online sale in Guwahati amid COVID concerns

Assam excise dept issues directive permitting liquor home delivery to avoid crowding

GUWAHATI, July 23: Online sale of liquor has started in the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) area following a notification issued by the state excise department permitting such sale for a month on experimental basis to avoid overcrowding during the non-curfew hours and facilitate social distancing norms in accordance with the COVID-19 norms.

The notification issued by the principal secretary (excise), stated that the first phase of such sale/purchase would be limited to the GMC area only, which might be subsequently extended to other areas of Assam.

The order stated that online sale of all Indian Made Foreign Liquor/beer/country spirit retail ‘OFF’ shops has been introduced in the GMC areas following COVID-induced restrictions imposed by the government as well as the Supreme Court and Madras High Court orders permitting non-direct sale, including online home delivery of liquor.

It may be mentioned that states such as West Bengal, Odisha, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala and Punjab have already introduced online sale and home delivery of liquor.

“In view of the pandemic, the circumstances that exist, which render it necessary to permit online sale of liquor which shall also curb consumption of illicit liquor,” the order said.

An amendment has been made to the Assam Excise Rules, 2016, now called the Assam Excise (Amendment) Rules, 2021 with the insertion of new rule 323A namely ‘online sale/home delivery of liquor’

Permission for online sale through app only will be granted only provided the Indian Made Foreign Liquor/beer/country spirit retail ‘OFF’ retailers possess valid licences.

The eligible retailers will have to register themselves on the App developed solely for this purpose by furnishing copies of valid license, location of the premises, list of delivery agents with name, address, phone number, photographs and other details.

The delivery agent shall not be less than 21 years of age. Each retailer can engage a maximum of 10 delivery agents.

The order further stated that eligible customers will have to register on the online portal furnishing proof of age and address. The eligible customer can order online up to three litres (bulk litres) of liquor. However, the delivery agent can carry a maximum of nine litres of liquor at a time.

“The order shall be executed against prepayment only and the delivery be ordinarily completed within two hours of receiving orders,” it stated.

Online home delivery will be between 11am to 10pm subject to compliance with the lockdown restrictions issued by competent authorities from time to time.

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