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Now, excise dept says no bar on recorded music

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NEW DELHI: Days after the Delhi government banned recorded music in restaurants serving alcohol, the state excise department on Monday changed its stand, saying no such restriction was in place.

Allaying fears of restaurateurs who sought amendments to the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010, the department clarified that no action would be taken if L-17 licence holders played recorded music. The L-17 licence is issued by the excise department to restaurants that serve alcohol to their customers.

“There is no ban on recorded music as neither the excise rules nor the circular issued by the department mentions it anywhere. The rule has been misinterpreted by some. No action has been taken on any outlet since the circular was issued,” said excise commissioner Amjad Tak.

According to the rules, “live singing or playing of instruments by professionals” is permitted. “But, it does not specifically state that recorded or any other form of music is not permitted. That is a grey area and depends on how one interprets it,” he said.

The department had issued two circulars this month warning of “strict action” against L-17 licence holders if they played anything but live music. The move was prompted by a series of complaints from residents on the noise emanating from such joints near residential areas.

In December last year, the N Block Welfare Association of Greater Kailash-I had registered a complaint with the Delhi Assembly’s Petitions Committee, which summoned excise officials who submitted a detailed action taken report.

According to the report, accessed by HT, the department had fined two restaurants Rs 2 lakh each for playing loud music. Now the department plans to alert the police and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee if it finds any L-17 licence holder playing loud music after 10 pm.

“Taking action against a licensee for playing music higher than the permitted decibel is not within our jurisdiction. We plan to inform DPCC and police if our inspection officers find any such activities,” Tak said.

Sources said the change in its stand came after representatives of the National Restaurants Association of India met deputy CM Manish Sisodia on Monday.

The restaurateurs feared if a ban on recorded music would kill nightlife. “The source of music should not be the cause of any action. Any nuisance created through music should be based on the decibel levels as prescribed by the law,” said Rahul Singh, president, NRAI.

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