Excise department trains lens on those calling in for liquor

MUMBAI: Andheri resident Piyush Verma often calls up the wine shop and gets liquor delivered home. His friend Lalita Kamat either texts the liquor shop owner or places an order online. But the recent crackdown by the on an ‘alcohol-on-call’ that procured liquor from shops and bars and made deliveries to customers in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Raigad has them worrying.
The excise department will direct to monitor their clients and check if anyone is indulging in illegal online or on-call alcohol delivery. Sources said a similar request has been made to the to help track such offenders. Online sale of liquor is illegal in Maharashtra.

Under the Bombay Prohibition Act, citizens must possess a to buy, possess or consume liquor. They can also buy a day’s permit at a wine shop or permit room for as little as Rs 5 before parceling or ordering alcohol. Possessing liquor without a drinking permit attracts a fine of Rs 5,000 up to Rs 25,000 or jail term up to six months, or both.

On Saturday, excise oficials busted the ‘alcohol-on-call’ and cancelled the licences of 50 shops and for being part of the network. Based on a tip-off, the officials visited Moksh wine shop on Napeansea Road and caught a delivery boy on a scooter buying alcohol worth over Rs 57,000. Investigations revealed that a firm took orders on phone and delivered liquor across the Mumbai metropolitan region. They are on the lookout for Manish Pardasani, who allegedly ran the network through a call centre at a popular liquor store chain in Juhu, Living Liquidz.

The south Mumbai wine shop and Pardasani had been booked for the same offence in 2014 too. “But even after penal action, they returned to their criminal ways last year,” said an excise official.

Excise officials said when they checked the arrested delivery boy’s phone, they found that he got orders even from children. In Maharashtra, the minimum legal drinking age for beer or ready-to-drink liquors is 21 years and for IMFL and country liquor is 25 years. Officials said the number of and delivery boys involved in the racket is expected to rise as investigation is still on.

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