HC stays e-auction of liquor shops

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court today slapped an interim stay on the operation of a notification of Odisha government made in February this year for e-auction of liquor shops, taking a serious view that the authorities are going ahead with the process of the e-auction without adhering to a judgement passed by this Court earlier.

The State’s Excise department had on February 6 issued a notification for e-auction of liquor shops in Cuttack and Balasore districts as a pilot project. While auction of liquor shops in these two districts were scheduled on March 23, the same would have been in made in remaining 28 districts in April.

However, challenging the government notification, several petitions were filed in the High court. Adjudicating over petitions filed Himansu Mohan Padhi and Monalisha Rath, a division bench, comprising Justices Indrajit Mahanti and Biswanath Mohapatra, granted an interim stay on the excise department notification.

Sources said the State government is contemplating to move the High Court soon to vacate the stay order after putting the necessary infrastructure in place for the process of e-auction of liquor shops.

With a view to getting rid of the present lottery system in allotting liquor shops, the State government has been trying to introduce e-auction of these allotments since 2013 in order to fetch more revenue. Accordingly, a notification to this effect was made in March 2013.

But the High Court had intervened and quashed the government notification in July 2013 suggesting that proper infrastructure should have been in place before changing the modalities of allotment of some 1500 liquor shops (Country Spirit and IMFL) in the State.