In what could be some positive news for India's hotel and restaurant industry, the Maharashtra State excise department has issued an order stating that FL-III license holders can sell their existing stock of foreign liquor. This order is valid only in some parts of the state where local authorities have permitted the sale of liquor.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (c) of the sub-section (1) of section 139 of the Maharashtra Prohibition Act and of all other powers enabling it in this behalf, the government of Maharashtra hereby exempts the person holding a licence in form FL-III as appended to the Bombay Foreign Liquor Rules 1953 from the provisions of the said rules, so far as it relates to the provisions of the licence of sale for consumption to residents or boarders under the said rules subject to conditions,” said the order dated May 19 and issued by Valsa Nair Singh, principal secretary (excise) in Maharashtra.
The order further mentions that permission has been granted only for off-premise consumption and in locations where local authorities have allowed the sale of liquor. Restaurants and hotels not allowed to buy and sell more foreign liquor than what they hold at present. The order states that restaurants and hotels can liquidate only existing stock held as of 24 March 2020.
Consumption of alcohol will not be permitted at any hotel or restaurant premises and will be in force till the time the lockdown ends or liquor stocks last. The government has separately clarified that the delivery of liquor will be via sealed bottles through the takeaway route or delivery by a license holder.
"We see this as a positive move. Even though the sale of existing liquor stock is not applicable in cities like Mumbai, it will be a revenue generator for restaurants in other parts where liquor sale has been permitted," said Anurag Katriar, President, National Restaurants Association of India.