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New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court will on May 11 hear a petition that sought its direction to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government to start the online sale of liquor in order to ensure the enforcement of the norms of social distancing amidst the lockdown due to COVID-19.

The plea filed by Sajag Nijhawan also sought court’s direction to the Delhi Government and its Excise Department to undertake immediate and urgent steps in the wake of COVID-19 to control the crowding/huge gathering of people outside the liquor shops and to ensure strict adherence to social distancing and to emanate its legal duty to ensure proper and adequate measures to combat COVID-19.

The court is slated to hear the petition on May 11.

It also asked the court direction ensuring that the Respondent No.1 evolves a proper policy to start the online sale of liquor and delivery it to the homes of consumers at a time when the entire machinery of the Country is tirelessly working to contain the COVID-19 outbreak or to introduce the token system through which liquor can be sold which will help in crowd management.

“… the shutting of the liquor shops will lead to loss of revenue and also might lead to the proliferation of spurious liquor. Keeping all this in mind, a total ban on alcohol sales is counterproductive. Rather, permitting online and offline sales, with safeguards, maybe a better option. Given the relatively inelastic nature of alcohol’s demand, it can be argued that its sale is well-suited to helping economic recovery,” the petition filed through Simran Kohli and Abheehshek Bhagat said.

“… in the present circumstances, Respondents should take a decision to make available potable liquor for delivery to consumers in the State through online platforms. Because, the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing and the only way to prevent its spread is by social distancing… it is the time for the state excise department to catch up to newer business models,” the stated further.

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