A day after the Mumbai police booked patrons at Azok restaurant and lounge, Oakwood Premier hotel for drinking alcohol without a permit under the Bombay Prohibition Act, officials from the Maharashtra excise department are stating that there was no alcohol present at the venue. Authorities booked around 91 people, including two IPL players and some celebrities, for drinking without permits at the party. They were all sent to hospitals for urine tests. However, excise officials have said that the licence holder never used the one-day party licence that was issued for a birthday do at Azok for May 20.
“After studying the FIR copy it is clear that cops have not seized any bottles of liquor from the spot. We learnt that the party was raided much before it actually started and the stock of liquor was not present on the premises,” said a senior excise official. “The licence was issued for Azok restaurant and not for the open-air premises adjacent to it,” he added.
When contacted N N Mudiraj, superintendent (excise) confirmed that the one-day party licence issued to the hotel was not used and the police did not seize any bottles from the spot. “The licence was issued to Azok and not for the open-air premises. Excise has nothing to do with this, as there was no alcohol present.”
However, the trouble for the hotel does not end there as several licences have been revoked. In addition to the police suspending their licences for playing music, the excise department has registered an offence against the hotel manager for not maintaining their logbooks. “The details of stock are missing in the log since May 17, which, by law, should necessarily be updated every day. Under Section 40, 3(b) of the Bombay Prohibition Act, and the Maharashtra Foreign Liquor Rules (6,7,8) of 1969, it is compulsory to show bills when asked to do so. The collector will have the power to fine, as it is a compoundable offence.”
Give me a drinking permit
Yesterday, the state excise department was busy handling calls from tipplers asking how they could get a drinking permit. “We have got a number of calls from people enquiring about the drinking permit. Since the media reported about this, we had a huge queue today at our licence counter, and our men were busy answering calls,” said an excise official.
Number of people in the city with a permanent drinking permit
Cost of drinking permit
One-day permit: It is available at all bars, pubs, wine shops and hotels. Rs 5 for Indian-manufactured foreign liquor (IMFL), and
Rs 2 for country liquor
One-year permit: Rs 100
Lifetime permit: Rs 1,000