The High Court has imposed new conditions on smoking hookah in restaurants. If you’re a hookah fan, take a deep breath and inhale. It’s not as bad as you thought.
The HC has said in a new judgment that the hookah being a tobacco smoking device, should be used only in the designated smoking area of a restaurant. Smoking is banned in public places and restaurants constitute public places, the HC has said.
Imposing the new condition, the HC in a case it disposed on February 27 said, “Petitioner shall earmark, exclusively, a separate area/place(s) with appropriate enclosure in the hotel premise and necessarily after obtaining licence for the purpose of hooka smoking and no other area or portion or premise shall be used by the customers of the petitioner for smoking hooka.”
The petition in the HC was filed by M/s 30th State, a restaurant in Venkala village, Bengaluru. The petition alleged that the local police were interfering in its business.
The customers in the restaurant were permitted to smoke hookah but the police were curtailing it.
The High Court cited a 2017 HC judgement which considered similar circumstances. The 2017 judgement had said that the use of the instrument known as Hookah cannot be prohibited as long as it was used for smoking tobacco and not any prohibited substances.
If it is used for other illegal purposes, the police can take appropriate action. There was also no need to take a separate licence for providing hookah services in restaurants, the judgement had said.
In the present case, the government advocate submitted that restaurants “under the guise of smoking hookah are likely to indulge in activities, which are unlawful and as such, police authorities should be permitted to keep a check and also smoking has been prohibited in public places, exclusive area for smoking hookah is to be earmarked by the petitioner in the business premises, where the hotel is being run.”
The HC accepted this contention and said that under the “guise of smoking hookah customers cannot be allowed to use marijuana, etc.”
That apart, “smoking of hookah should not cause inconvenience to other customers since smoking having been prohibited in public places, an exclusive area with separate enclosure requires to be reserved for hookah bar.”
The HC disposed the petition by 30th State by imposing both the earlier and new conditions on designated spaces for smoking hookah.
The police were directed not to interfere with the legal activities of the restaurant but if there were any illegal activities in the premises, they could follow procedures and take action.