Alcohol
Karnataka’s Excise Department has come down heavily on internet-based alcohol delivery systems like Dunzo and HipBar.
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Ordering a home delivery for alcohol via the internet could soon get tougher in the state of Karnataka if the State Excise Department has its way.

The Excise Department has come down heavily on internet-based alcohol delivery systems and those affected include popular local concierge application 'Dunzo' and HipBar, which allow the home delivery of beverages.

"We have not created a license for online modes of alcohol delivery and they are not legal. We are planning to file cases against any businesses selling alcohol via the internet," Rajendra Prasad, Additional Commissioner of Excise (Indian Made Liquor), told TNM

'Dunzo,’ which delivered alcohol from government-licensed vendors, has paused facilitating delivery alcoholic beverages for the last two weeks. Currently, users are not able to get alcoholic beverages delivered via the company's driver partners.

According to the official, alcoholic beverages account for less than 5% of Dunzo's total deliveries and is not expected to affect the company's business. The company, founded in 2015, has been operating in the city for over three years now. It was not involved in the sale of alcohol and only delivered from licensed vendors.

HipBar, backed by the global alcohol major Diageo, declined to comment on queries posed by TNM.

"We do not wish to make any specific comments on the queries, excepting to say that HipBar is engaging with multiple states and their respective regulators to move the needle on last mile deliveries of alcoholic beverages with reasonable restrictions and safeguards in place, such that the letter and spirit of the excise policy is not vitiated," read a statement from the company. ;

HipBar continues to deliver alcohol through its application and its officials believe that they have complied with the excise department's regulations. It is one of the few internet-based businesses delivering alcohol in the city.

However, the Excise Department confirmed that several businesses including HipBar have been given 'a letter of authority' over delivering alcohol to customers. "We have issued notices to few businesses and will be looking to bring more such businesses within the purview of the law," added Rajendra.

The sale of liquor comes under the ambit of state governments in the country. Each state has its own set of laws and in Karnataka, sales via the internet are prohibited by the excise department.

“Regulating manufacture, transport, possession, sale and other activities of the trade in spirit, spirituous preparations, potable liquor and other intoxicants” is mentioned as the mission of the state excise department. The State Excise Act, 1965, also mentions restrictions on transport of alcohol but there is no specific license mentioned for internet-based alcohol delivery businesses.