The online sale of liquor in the first phase is limited to Guwahati Municipal Corporation area only, which may be further extended to other areas of the state by the excise authorities.
Citing the COVID induced restrictions imposed by the government as well as the Supreme Court and Madras High Court orders permitting non-direct sales including online home delivery of liquor to avoid overcrowding and to facilitate social distancing norms in terms of COVID-19 guidelines, the order stated that online sale of all Indian made foreign liquor/beer/country spirit retail ‘OFF’ shops in the Guwahati Municipal Corporation areas has been introduced.
It may be mentioned that states like West Bengal, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala and Punjab have already introduced online sale and home delivery of liquor.
“In view of the pandemic, the circumstances (that) exist, which render it necessary to permit online sale of liquor which shall also curb consumption of illicit liquor,” the order said. Amendment is made to the Assam Excise Rules, 2016, now called the Assam Excise (Amendment) Rules, 2021 with insertion of new rule 323A namely ‘Online sale/home delivery of liquor’.
Permission for online sale through APP only will be granted only provided the Indian Made Foreign Liquor/beer/country spirit retail ‘OFF’ retailers possess valid licences.
The eligible retailers will have to register themselves on the App developed solely for this purpose by furnishing copy of valid license, location of the premises, list of delivery agents with name, address, phone number, photographs and other details. The delivery agent shall not be less than 21 years of age. Each retailer can engage a maximum of 10 delivery agents.
The order stated that eligible customer will have to register on the online portal furnishing proof of age and address. The eligible customer can order online up to three litres (bulk litre) of liquor. However, the delivery agent can carry a maximum of nine litres of liquor at a time. “The order shall be executed against prepayment only and the delivery be ordinarily completed within two hours of receiving orders, ” it stated.
Online home delivery will be between 11.00 AM to 10.00 PM subject to compliance with the lockdown restrictions issued by competent authorities from time to time. The online sale of liquor shall not be available for hostels of educational institutions, Government/non-Government/semi Government offices and other public and religious places. The order stated that the retailers would have to abide by Maximum Retail Price (MRP) fixed by the Assam Excise Department, failing which appropriate legal action will be taken against them.
The delivery charges will be Rs.50/- per order for a distance of less than 1 km and Rs.75/- per order for a distance between 1 km and 2 km. In addition to delivery charges, service charges and internet payment gateway charges, as may be applicable, will be borne by the customer. Registered retailers may accept or reject any order within 10 minutes, if the order is not serviceable for any reason. “In case an order is rejected by a retailer, a fresh order shall be generated by the customer by choosing another registered retailer. If the Retailer fails to respond to the order within 10 minutes, the order shall be deemed to be rejected,” the order stated.
The sale invoice shall clearly reflect the name and address of the customer, the name and phone number of the delivery agent, the description and quantity and price of the liquor dispatched with MRP, the time and date of dispatch of the liquor, delivery charges, and the service charges and the bank charges, wherever applicable, separately. The delivery agent will have to carry on his person Identity Card issued by the retailer and an invoice which will also act as a pass to facilitate movement. The delivery agent will deliver the items and handover a copy of the invoice to the customer.
The retailers will have to maintain a register detailing therein date wise, name and address of the persons placing online orders, the volume and value, type of liquor, name of delivery agent, status of delivery etc.
The delivery agent shall have to follow all the social distancing norms like wearing masks, maintaining 6ft. distance and using sanitiser frequently. “No person having any symptoms relating to pandemic or if unwell shall be engaged for home delivery, ” the order said.