In a big setback to the booze lovers in the national capital, the Delhi High Court on Friday refused to grant an interim stay on the Arvind Kejriwal government’s notification imposing a 70 per cent ‘Special Corona Fee’ on the MRP of all liquor brands in the national capital.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Harishankar issued notice to the Delhi government seeking its response over a batch of petitions challenging the May 4 order of the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government imposing the extra cost.

The court has now posted the matter for hearing on May 29. Ramesh Singh, appearing for the Delhi government told the court that a detailed response would be filed by the next date of hearing.

The orders were passed while the court was dealing with a batch of petitions challenging the Delhi government’s notification imposing the 70 per cent fee on liquor’s MRP and seeking a stay on the same.

Lalit Valecha by way of his petition said that the move to impose a 70 per cent Special Corona Fee is “without the authority of law and is in a most arbitrary manner affecting the interests of various residents and citizens of Delhi, especially in the time of the prevailing crisis.”

“The impugned notification also results into double, jeopardy to the consumers of liquor in the state of Delhi as the Special Corona Fee is payable over and above the MRP which is already inclusive of various taxes, duties and levies by the government. Further, the purpose or intent for which the said fee has been imposed has no correlation with the services being rendered by the State Government i.e. the sale of liquor or any direct benefit to the payers of the said ‘fee’ and thus, such a highly exaggerated levy under the guise of a ‘Special Fee’ without any supportive calculation or any reference to expenditure in providing such a service is arbitrary, unreasonable and bad in law,” said the plea.

The plea further said that imposing a hefty fee of 70 per cent as “Special Corona Fees” upon the residents of Delhi buying liquor/alcoholic drinks is arbitrary and has resulted in hardship to the residents of Delhi.

“The intent behind imposing such fee is not to curtail the sale of liquor and is for revenue generation as has been repeatedly expressed by the Delhi Government in media briefings,” it said.

“The Respondents (Delhi government) have no power or authority under any law to amend the Delhi Excise Rules of 2010 in the aforesaid manner and to impose such a special fee without any justification in the prevailing times by misusing the taxing powers of the state as an after-thought. The Respondents has exceeded the authority granted by the Constitution of India and thus, the indulgence and intervention of this Hon’ble Court is imperative and it is humbly prayed that the impugned notification and order dated 04.05.2020 be quashed/set aside,” the petitioner prayed.