NEW DELHI: As an interim measure, the Delhi High Court has permitted the service and sale of herbal hookahs in restaurants and bars of the city. The court said that the owners will have to comply with Covid-19 protocols and use disposable pipes. They have to ensure that serving is done only in public spaces.
Justice Rekha Palli said the Delhi government and other authorities will not be allowed to interfere with the service of herbal hookahs by the petitioners in their restaurants. The court passed interim relief to the petitioners after considering the fact that almost all other activities including swimming and going to cinema halls have been regularised after the lockdown and restrictions. The court passed the order while hearing a plea that challenged an order of the Joint Commissioner of Police.
The order had prohibited the sale and service of herbal hookahs in restaurants and bars across the city. The court posted the matter for further hearing on February 9 and granted six weeks’ time to the respondents for filing a counter affidavit and two weeks for filing a rejoinder. Speaking with this newspaper, government counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi said that in case if Covid-19 cases surge, the government will once again move an application to withdraw the order.
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, saying that they were serving herbal hookahs for which no licence is required as they are totally without tobacco but police were still conducting raids.
The petitioners challenged the order of the Joint Commissioner of Police (Licensing Unit) prohibiting the sale or service of herbal flavoured hookahs. Delhi government had been opposing the pleas saying that for a single mistake, the entire city would have to pay a heavy price, and allowing hookah consumption in public places may spread Covid-19.