Friday, February 3, 2023

Delhi High Court directs Delhi govt to consider allowing sale of herbal hookah

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The Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi Government to consider allowing the sale and service of Herbal Hookah in Delhi, in light of the statement made by the petitioners that they would serve Hookah only in open spaces and would further ensure no sharing is allowed.

The Court has granted 5 days to Delhi Government for the reconsideration, whilst also directing if the government still feels the ban is necessary, it has to submit an affidavit regarding the same.

The single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Pallihas also directed the Delhi Police to not harass the petitioners by parking their cars outside petitioner establishments, but have been allowed to make random checks.

The Court recorded the submission of the Delhi Government that it had reconsidered its order dated August 3, 2020, and by order October 14, 2021, whereby the Delhi Government had reiterated its decision of not allowing the sale of Hookah with or without Tobacco.

The petitioners submitted that they would serve Hookah only in open spaces and would further ensure no sharing is allowed. They further submitted, even though the petitioner organizations provide a wide variety of services apart from serving Hookah, they are being harassed by the Delhi Police by parking their vehicles outside the petitioner establishment.

The matter would now be heard on October 29. At the previous hearing, the court had directed the Delhi Government to reconsider its decision of not allowing the sale and service of Herbal Hookah in Delhi.

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-flavored hookahs in restaurants/bars being run by them.

The petitioners stated that they are serving herbal hookahs for which no license is required as they are total without tobacco but the police are still conducting raids, seizing equipment, and issuing challans.

They 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 the 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 coronavirus.

“Now, therefore, in the 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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