New Delhi, May 13: The Delhi High Court has expressed concern over the suggestion relating to home delivery of alcohol through food delivery platforms saying it would be “fraught with security and safety issues”.

“The possibility of alcohol being snatched during transit cannot be ruled out. The possibility of home delivery of alcohol, distribution whereof till now is largely in the hands of State, would also increase the possibilities of adulteration of alcohol, also resulting in loss of life.

“It appears that transit of alcohol from home to home would have to be in the same manner and style as transit of cash between banks and between banks and ATMs,” a bench comprising Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal observed, as reported by NDTV.

The remarks were made by the bench, which on Monday, also asked the Centre and the Delhi Government, to take a decision “at the earliest” with regard to sale of alcohol and ensuring there is no crowding outside liquor vends during Covid-19 pandemic. It asked them to consider suggestions, like online sale of alcohol, discussed during the hearing of several petitions against the crowding outside liquor vends.

The bench also expressed it displeasure over the conduct of people when the liquor shops were opened during the lockdown and said delivering it to homes through platforms like Zomato “would be fraught with security and safety issues”.

Some of the other suggestions that were made during the hearing were opening of all the liquor vends in the national capital, and providing information about available liquor brands at a store to a customer at the time of applying for e-token.

Delhi government standing counsel Ramesh Singh and central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan told the court they were looking into online sale of liquor and how to implement it, as presently it is not permitted under the Excise law and rules.

The bench said any delay on the part of the Centre and Delhi government in coming with a solution “can exacerbate the problem of crowding outside liquor shops” and would increase probability of spreading COVID-19 as each day more and more people will come in close contact with each other.

“Moreover, it is not as if the problem is of a permanent nature, solution whereof can be devised at leisure. The problem is perhaps of a few days more in as much as once the patrons of alcohol are satisfied that there would be no further closure, the crowding outside liquor shops is likely to disappear,” the high court opined.

The bench asked the Centre and Delhi government to take a decision at the earliest “so that more damage than has already been done is not caused and so that the decision taken, serves the need of the hour”.

During the hearing, Mr Singh told the court that instructions have been issued by Delhi government to the liquor vends to ensure social distancing by having separate queues for those approaching to purchase liquor along with the e-tokens and those approaching without e-tokens.

The bench, however, was of the opinion that the instructions were issued “without regard to the location and position of the liquor vends”. 

“It appears to us that considering the location and position of most of the liquor vends in the city, it is not possible to maintain social distancing as has been prescribed and the instructions stated to have been issued will not serve any purpose and will remain on paper only.

“Most of the liquor vends open on and have delivery counter facing the road and do not permit entry of any person therein except the staff deployed for selling. The roads on which the vends are situated also do not permit of any prescribed social distancing to be maintained,” it said.

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