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| Sep-28-2021

Rajasthan HC quashes petitions seeking tax relief on the sale of liquor

In Babu Khan v. State of Rajasthan and Ors. [Civil Writ Petition No.7543/2021 dated September 15, 2021] there were a total of 121 Writ Petitions filed by the Liquor Vendors (“the Petitioners”) seeking waivers on the annual guarantee fee and tax relief for the second wave time period of COVID-19.

In the case, the Petitioners contended that on account of lock-down, the licensed liquor shops remained closed for a mammoth total of 395 hours out of the prescribed 680 hours. Furthermore, it was contended that in April and May, 2021, the shops were shut for 67.74% of the total time. Further, the Petitioners argued that the functional hours of 6:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. were completely bogus and due to which, their sales dropped exponentially.

Furthermore, the Petitioners contended that the criteria to levy the annual guarantee fee must be reasonable. They claimed that the waiver of only 30% on the said fee is impractical as it doesn't take the COVID situation into account. Further, it was contended by the Petitioners, that the Respondents must not insist on the payment of the annual guarantee fee by taking consideration of the bids made by the Petitioner earlier as they had made the said bids in the earlier stages of the pandemic and there was no way to foresee the extension of the pandemic up to the month of March 2021. For further substantiation, the Petitioner also pointed out that the State Government had not included a clause of Force Majeure (a clause that includes all the unforeseeable circumstances that may prevent the fulfillment of a contract). Essentially, the Petitioners contended that the demand of the annual guarantee fee from them is totally arbitrary and lacks rationality.

After taking perusal of all the facts and evidences, the Honorable Rajasthan High Court held that the loss caused to them cannot be put on the shoulders of the Government as with their open eyes they have submitted higher bids and accepted the conditions of the policy. The Petitioners cannot now turn around and claim as a right from this Court for mandamus as against the State.

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