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Saturday, 8 August 2020

Special Enquiry Team visit to NV Distillery was blocked: Report

Bhartesh Singh Thakur

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7

The Special Enquiry Team (SET) probing the Haryana liquor scam wanted to visit the premises of NV Distillery, Rajpura, but could not do so, as per its report. Excise and Taxation Commissioner Shekhar Vidyarthi at first agreed to accompany the team to the distillery on July 3, but hours before departure refused to do so, saying he was busy. On a subsequent request, he cited legal provisions to deny permission.

The name of the distillery figures in at least 14 cases of liquor smuggling registered across Haryana."That NV distillery was involved in smuggling of liquor was stated by most of the officers with whom the SET interacted," the report says. When the SET sought permission to visit the distillery on July 18, the Excise Commissioner's reply dated July 28, received on the evening of July 29, maintained that any such visit was not covered under the Punjab Excise Policy, 1914 (also applicable to Haryana).

"This was nothing but an attempt to block the visit of the SET to the distillery. Moreover, the SET had not sought permission to perform any of the functions covered under the Act. The visit was confined to understanding the processes involved in the operation of a distillery. The SET had neither the intention nor the powers to 'inspect' the distillery/make seizures. However, the SET has obtained corroborative evidence regarding the possible complicity of NV Distillery in cases/FIRs registered by the police," the report says.

The SET sought information from Punjab's Principal Secretary, Excise and Taxation, on June 25, who replied on July 27, stating 22,936 cases of liquor of NV Distillery, Rajpura, remained unaccounted for. While looking into FIRs (from April 1, 2019, to May 10, 2020), the SET found clear indications that the seized liquor was sourced from NV Distillery units in Naraingarh and Rajpura.

from The Tribune

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