Swarna Shukla –
Published On: November 16, 2021 at 21:00 IST
Delhi High Court allowed for the time being the use of herbal hookah in pubs and restaurants in Delhi city and stated that COVID-19 restrictions cannot be permitted to continue at the cost of livelihood.
Justice Rekha Palli, was hearing a batch of Pleas by several restaurants and bars against the prohibition on the sale or service of herbal flavoured hookahs.
The Judge said that prohibitions imposed on account of the pandemic cannot go on forever and noted that the authorities have permitted cinema halls and swimming pools to function at full capacity.
The Court said, “Subject to the Petitioners filing an undertaking, till the next date of hearing, the Respondent (Delhi government) will stand restrained from interfering with the service of herbal hookah.”
The Court directed the Delhi government to file its response to the Petitions and asked it to ‘take a call’ if other restaurants and bars approach it for permission to serve herbal hookah in accordance with COVID-19 protocol.
Individual 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, mentioning that they were serving herbal hookahs for which no licence is required because they are totally tobacco-free yet the police were still conducting raids, seizing equipment, and issuing challans.
The Delhi Government has been opposing the Pleas saying that for a single mistake, the entire Delhi would have to pay a heavy price, and allowing hookah consumption in public places may spread COVID-19 since people would be sharing it.
The Petitioners contended that the continuation of the ban on the sale and use of herbal hookah was unjustified. The High Court earlier directed the Delhi Government to reconsider the ban and file an Affidavit.
The Delhi Government clarified that Delhi Disaster Management Authority has permitted only those activities, such as the opening of cinema halls, restaurants, etc, which are essential, concern the social and economic well-being of the public and can be followed in compliance with all COVID appropriate behaviour.
However, the nature of the mechanism of hookah increased the risk of transmission of the virus, it was stated. The matter is listed for further hearing.