Telangana HC reserves order on pleas of hookah centres in Hyderabad

The State contended that minors were being drawn to these establishments due to peer pressure and the rules regarding the required distance between smoking rooms were being ignored.
Telangana High Court. (Photo | Wikimedia Commons)
Telangana High Court. (Photo | Wikimedia Commons)

HYDERABAD: Justice CV Bhaskar Reddy of the Telangana High Court has recently concluded the hearings on a batch of more than 60 writ petitions filed by various hookah centres in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts, alleging police interference in the operation of the establishments.

Contending that they are complying with the various provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), the petitioners sought a court directive to prevent police interference. However, the counsel for the State government argued that the writ petitioners’ plea was untenable as they were seeking sweeping directive against police to preempt any lawful action against the hookah centres. The counsel asserted that the term “hookah centre” or “hookah parlour” did not appear in any statutes and the COTPA Act only recognized “smoking rooms” attached to hotels or restaurants.

Furthermore, the State contended that minors were being drawn to these establishments due to peer pressure and the rules regarding the required distance between smoking rooms were being ignored.

One of the contentious points raised is the use of charcoal in hookah centres. The State emphasised that the additional carbon monoxide produced by burning charcoal is inhaled along with hookah smoke. Additionally, the storage of coal in any premises requires a licence under the GHMC Act, which the petitioners ignored by operating restaurants, bakeries and snooker parlours alongside hookah services.

Another concern raised by the State was the lack of disclosure regarding the nature and source of hookah tobacco used by the petitioners. They contended that the absence of information regarding tobacco labelling, packaging rule compliance, and the quantity of tobacco used raised suspicions of clandestine activities. After extensive arguments from both sides, Justice CV Bhaskar Reddy has reserved judgment. 

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