The Delhi excise department has told pubs and restaurants serving alcohol in the city to refrain from playing recorded music. Deputy Excise Commissioner Ashraf Ali said the department was reiterating existing rules, The Indian Express reported.

However, the department, in a circular dated May 16, said that hotels and restaurants that have the L-17 licence – the most common category of permit – should play live music. Excise department officials said that the notice was issued after several residents in areas such as Greater Kailash registered complaints. The M Block market in Greater Kailash has several pubs and eateries.

A number of bar owners questioned the logic behind the notice. “Technically, mixers and CD players are also instruments and a DJ is also a professional,” Priyank Sukhija, the owner of Flying Saucer and Boombox Cafe, told The Indian Express. “A few years ago, this circular had surfaced. Even then, we used this logic after meeting with the excise department. If there is any problem, we will approach the court for this. It is the most ridiculous thing I have heard since being in this industry.”

Umang Tiwari, the owner of the pubs Junkyard Cafe and Garam Dharam in Connaught Place, told the daily that the development would aggravate the situation for businessmen, who are already reeling under the effects of demonetisation, implementation of the Goods and Services Tax regime, and the sealing drive. “What is the point of allowing live music by professionals and not recorded music?” he asked. “Most pubs are in commercial areas.”