A plea has been moved in the Delhi High Court by various Restaurants and Bars operating in the national capital, aggrieved by the alleged interference of Delhi Government as well as the Police in the sale of Herbal Hukkahs in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Justice Rekha Palli on Monday heard the pleas which have challenged the order passed by the Joint Commissioner of Police, prohibiting sale and service of herbal hukkahs in restaurants and bars run by the Petitioners.
While posting the matter for further hearing on September 20, the Court asked the petitioners to file additional affidavit in the matter.
During the course of hearing today, Senior Advocate Sandeep Sethi appearing for the petitioners submitted before the Court that since the said restaurants and bars are undertaking not to use nicotine in hukkahs, they cannot be prohibited by the authorities in carrying out their businesses.
It was therefore the petitioners' case that the respondents, without jurisdiction, were preventing them from carrying out their businesses despite the order passed by the High Court wherein it was stated that as long as restaurants and eatery houses do not serve nicotine, they cannot be prohibited from carrying out their business.
On the other hand, Santosh Kumar Tripathi, standing counsel for Delhi Government relied on an order issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority dated August 3, 2020 prohibiting the use of hukkah, with or without tobacco including herbal hukkahs, water pipes and other devices in all restaurants and bars to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
He also objected to the fact that the aforesaid order was not annexed with the petition.
Accordingly, on the request of the petitioners, the Court granted time to them for filing additional affidavit along with the copy of the DDMA order explaining it's effect.
According to the order issued by the DDMA, since smokers are likely to be vulnerable to Covid-19, and since the use and sharing of hookahs may further increase the spread of the virus, it was stated thus:
"...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."
Case Title: Breathe Fine Lounge And Bar v. GNCTD; MS Tos Through Its Director v. GNCTD & ANR.