Delhi government should allow herbal hookah sale: Establishments to HC
(Sourced from PTI)
Several restaurants and bars on Wednesday urged the Delhi High Court to direct the AAP government and police not to interfere with the sale of herbal flavored hookahs or take coercive steps against them. The plea was opposed by the Delhi government which said use of hookah in all public places including hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, and discotheques, in Delhi is strictly prohibited.
The Delhi government had said that use or sharing of hookah may further increase the spread of COVID-19. Justice Rekha Palli listed the matter for further hearing on September 20 as the counsel for petitioner restaurants and bars said he would file an additional affidavit.
They (Delhi government) have problem with shared hookah which could lead to COVID-19 spread. If 40 people are using 10 hookahs, it's a problem, the court said, adding that this is an entirely different situation. Senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, representing the petitioner entities, said as long as restaurants undertake not to use nicotine in hookah, they cannot be prohibited from carrying out their businesses.
Delhi government's standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi referred to the August 3, 2020 order passed by the Health Department which has observed that in public places, use and sharing of hookah with and without tobacco (herbal hookah) may further increase the spread of coronavirus.
Now, therefore, in the exercise of powers conferred by Delhi Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19, Regulations, 2020 under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the use of hookah in all public places is strictly prohibited, the Delhi government order said. Separate petitions were filed by Breath Fine Lounge and Bar, TOS, R High Speedbar and Lounge, Verandah Moonshine, and Sixth Empirica Lounge in West Punjabi Bagh.
The petitions were filed challenging the order of the Joint Commissioner of Police (Licensing Unit) prohibiting and excluding the sale or service of herbal flavored hookahs in restaurants/bars being run by them. The pleas said the petitioners are serving herbal hookahs for which no license is required as they are without tobacco but the police is still conducting raids, seizing equipment, and issuing challans.
It sought to declare that the definition of "smoking" under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), does not cover herbal flavored hookahs. COTPA covers only cigarettes and other tobacco products. It also sought to direct the authorities not to take any extreme step of suspension or cancellation of the registration certificate of the petitioners.