A report that Maharashtra would soon bring in a policy that allows people to order liquor through e-commerce platforms led to much excitement on Sunday, but the state's Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has put paid to the hopes of the thousands who love their tipple.
"No such decision has been taken and neither will it be taken," the CM toldTheTimes of India.
Maharashtra's minister of state for excise, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, had told reporters that the state is planning to bring a policy to allow people to order liquor online, which would have made it India's first state to do so.
The minister had said that the objective was to reduce cases of drunk driving. Bawankule had further said that sellers would ask for customer details including Aadhaar numbers to verify that customers were above the legal age. He also added that the state would require geo-tagging of liquor bottles, to track them from manufacturer to customer, to curb sales of spurious liquor and smuggling.
TheTimes of India quoted an anonymous bureaucrat who said that Maharashtra's excise department was flooded with protest messages after the minister's announcement, which could possibly be the reason for the CM's firm response. Bawankule also backtracked, saying that only an application had been received.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray also criticised the BJP-led Maharashtra government, and said the move "did not suit the state's culture. Every day, something is being done (by the government that embarrasses the state".
As of now, there are no clear laws about the delivery of alcohol, although a number of companies have entered this space from time to time. In Delhi, for example, the excise department clamped down on online sales, as the companies did not have liquor licences. Instead, they had been selling alcohol that they procured through tie-ups with licensed retailers.This included companies like WineBazar.in and LetsBuyDrink.com, which are no longer active.
Dunzo, the Bengaluru-based startup that received funding from Google last year, used to allow users to order liquor through the app, although in the run-up to the Karnataka state elections earlier this year, it began limiting the quantity that could be ordered. Today, Dunzo does not allow the delivery of "bottled alcoholic beverages, or any intoxicant or narcotics or psychotropic substances", as per its terms and conditions.