Early in September, the Karnataka government had decided to stop the online sale of liquor. The government had also issued notices to popular concierge app Dunzo, after which home delivery of alcohol was stopped. However, the state government seems to be making a U-turn and is now mulling allowing online sale of alcohol.
Speaking to TNM, Rajendra Prasad, Additional Commissioner of Excise (Indian Made Liquor) said that CM HD Kumaraswamy is said to meet with the representatives of the Federation of Wine Merchants Association, Karnataka, soon. "The Excise Department has formulated a proposal to allow the sale of liquor online. This was sent to the Finance Department for approval. The proposal has moved from there and is awaiting cabinet approval. The CM will hold talks with the Wine Merchants' Association because they are opposing this proposal," he added.
A source in the Excise Department said, "We are planning to levy a certain percent of excise duty for online liquor sale. But there is some opposition from owners of retail outlets which sell alcohol.”
Govindraj Hegde, President of the Federation of Wine Merchants Association, Karnataka, termed the state government's proposal as "dangerous on many levels" and says that the association strongly opposes such a proposal.
"The proposal will have adverse effects. The government has not been able to curb the sale of drugs to children. If online sale of alcohol comes into effect, how will they curb underage drinking? Another big problem is that it will be dangerous for the income of wine merchants. Those selling liquor online will get the liquor at cheaper rates. This will bring down business at retail outlets, and those who are in possession of the CL 7 and CL 4 liquor licences," he added.
A source in the Excise Department say that the state government is planning to allow online sale of liquor in order to make up for revenue which was lost due to farm loan waiver.
"When HD Kumaraswamy became the Chief Minister of Karnataka, he promised to waive over Rs 50,000 crore worth of farm loans. With this, the government had to look for other venues to obtain revenues. The Excise Department officials were told to come up with schemes to generate more revenue, and now the officials are mulling allowing online sale of liquor," the source said.
The Excise Department had come down heavily on internet-based alcohol delivery systems in September this year. "We had not created a license for online delivery of liquor and they are not legal currently. If the new proposal gets approved, we will be able to ensure that all of it is done legally," Rajendra Prasad added.
However, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Tuesday said that the proposal he has not received the proposal yet. "Regarding the online sale of liquor, I have not received any proposal till now," he told the media.