Delhi High Court adjourns pleas for resuming sale, service of herbal hookah

The Delhi High Court on Thursday adjourned a batch of petitions seeking allowing sale and service of ‘Herbal Hookah’ in Delhi, filed by various restaurants, bars and lounges.

The single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli pulled up the Delhi Government for filling an affidavit without reconsidering its decision, of not allowing sale and service of ‘Herbal Hookah’ in Delhi.

On the previous date of hearing, the court had directed the Delhi Government to reconsider its decision of not allowing sale and service of Herbal Hookah in Delhi. 

Rebuking the Delhi Government, Justice Rekha Palli stated, “This is not compliance, you have mentioned the reasons for not allowing sale, but there is no whisper on whether DDMA reconsidered the allowing of sale.”

Advocate Nandani Sahni, appearing for the petitioners, sought to place reliance on Narinder S. Chadha and Ors vs Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai & Ors, to state that restrictions, apart from the Cigarettes Act, are not valid.

Advocate Santosh Kumar Tripathi, appearing on behalf of the Government of NCT of Delhi, sought one-week time to fall in compliance with the court’s order.

The 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, challenging the order of the JCP (Licensing Unit), prohibiting and excluding the sale or service of herbal-flavoured hookahs in restaurants/bars being run by them.

The petitioners said they were serving herbal hookahs, for which no licence is required, as they are totally without tobacco, but the police is still conducting raids, seizing equipment, and issuing challans.

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The pleas have sought to declare that definition of “smoking” under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), does not cover herbal flavored hookahs and to direct the authorities not to take any extreme step of suspension or cancellation of registration certificate of the petitioners.

The Delhi government order passed on August 3, 2020 by the Health Department observed that in public places, use and sharing of hookah with and without tobacco (herbal hookah) may further increase the spread of Novel Coronavirus.

“Now, therefore, in exercise of powers conferred by the Delhi Epidemic Diseases, Covid-19, Regulations, 2020 under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the use of hookah (with or without tobacco, that is, herbal hookah, water pipes and other hookah like devices) in all public places, including hotels, restaurants, eatery houses, bars, pubs, discotheques, etc of the NCT of Delhi is strictly prohibited with immediate effect, for the purpose of prevention and control of the outbreak of epidemic disease namely Covid-19 in NCT of Delhi,”

-the Delhi government order said.
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