Delhi High Court received a petition challenging the Delhi Government’s recent imposition of 70% ‘special corona fee‘ on liquor during the lockdown. Advocates Bharat Gupta and Varun Tyagi (The Legist Auxiliary) filed the petition.
‘Special Corona Fee’- Against The Delhi Excise Act
The petition states that under Section 26 of the Delhi Excise Act, the government can generate revenue only under four heads: duty, license fee, label registration fee, import/export fee. Firstly, Section 26 does not consider generating revenue under a new category of ‘Special Corona Fee’. Secondly, the Petitioner argues that the government wrongfully invoked section 81 of the Delhi Excise Act to charge this new fee.
They claim that Section 81(2)(g) is merely a procedural and regulatory provision which derives its powers from the other substantive provisions of the Act. Neither Section 26 nor Rules 152 and 154 provide for any such category, the Petitioner asserts; therefore, the Delhi Government cannot invoke Section 81 to generate revenue under the head of ‘Special Corona Fee.’
Contrary To The Provisions Of The Constitution
While claiming that the charging of Special Corona Fee violates the fundamental right of equality and equal protection, as enshrined under Article 14 of the Constitution, the Petitioner asserted that:
‘The impugned levy is only on retail sales that too on MRP; which means that the impugned fee has been levied directly on the Consumer of the Liquor; however, the provisions of the Act and Rules, does not lay down any such levy to be imposed on the Consumers. Hence, the impugned notification and consequently the levy i.e. Special Corona Fee is ultra-vires and is therefore, liable to be quashed and set aside.’
Conclusively, the petitioner claims that this step of the Delhi Government is arbitrary and unreasonable. They add that charging Special Corona Fee on liquor also violates Article 265 of the Constitution; which lays down that no tax shall be levied or collected except by authority of law.