17 Sep 2021 7:30 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Disaster Management Authority of the Delhi Government to consider and resolve the issue of allowing restaurants and bars to serve and sell Herbal Hukkahs, on an urgent basis.Justice Rekha Palli was hearing the pleas filed by by various Restaurants and Bars operating in the national capital, aggrieved by the alleged interference of Delhi Government as...
The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Disaster Management Authority of the Delhi Government to consider and resolve the issue of allowing restaurants and bars to serve and sell Herbal Hukkahs, on an urgent basis.
Justice Rekha Palli was hearing the pleas filed by 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. The Petitioners had challenged the order passed by the Joint Commissioner of Police, prohibiting sale and service of herbal hukkahs in restaurants and bars run by them.
The petitioners had contended that individual hukkahs are provided to the customers in the restaurants and eatery houses run by them and that they are not shared with other customers at any cost.
The Court also recorded the submission of Advocate Nandini Sahni appearing for the petitioners that only 5-10% of guests visiting the restaurants and bars are desirous of having hukkahs. Thus, hukkahs are available in much more quantity than the requirement of the guests.
It was also submitted by Sahni that since the DDMA and Delhi Government have again recommended use of breath analyzer test, there was no reason for them to not permit the Petitioners who have their entire livelihood dependent on the business.
While issuing notice on the plea, the Court said:
"When you are opening other activities and they (Petitioners) are willing to undertake, then you have to take a decision. Livelihood also has to be balanced."
Accordingly, while posting the matter for further hearing on September 30, the Court granted time to the Delhi Government for obtaining instructions in the matter.
"It is expected that the DDMA will consider this aspect on an urgent basis," the Court added.
Santosh Kumar Tripathi appearing for the Delhi Government however opposed the petition by arguing that permitting restaurants and bars to serve hukkahs will affect a large number of people.
"Entire Delhi will pay a price for opening of Hukkah bars. We're having our masks on while we're driving in the car, sitting alone. How can we allow hukkah to be served in bars?" Tripathi submitted.
"A single mistake of opening hukkah bars will cost lives. Hukkah isn't important, lives are so much important. We're already stressed over the manpower, doctors, covid workers, nurses etc. Do not give lenient consideration to this issue," he added.
Earlier, the petitioners had submitted 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.
Tripathi had then 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.
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.