Delhi High Court permits sale of herbal hookahs in restaurants, bars in city

Delhi High Court permits sale of herbal hookahs in restaurants, bars in city

After a long ban on hookah across the national capital, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday has allowed the sale of herbal hookahs in restaurants, bars, and pubs in the city. The high court said that COVID-19 restrictions cannot be permitted to continue at the cost of livelihood.

The plea regarding reinstating the sale of hookahs was entered into the Delhi High Court by certain bars and pubs and was heard on November 16 by Justice Rekha Palli. The HC bench said that the prohibitions imposed on account of the pandemic ‘cannot go on forever’.

The judge said that since the government has already allowed the reopening of cinema halls and swimming pools across Delhi, the sale of herbal hookahs in the city can also begin again. The court further clarified that the permission has been granted in an interim capacity, and restaurants will have to maintain COVID-19 appropriate behavior while serving hookahs to the public.

Justice Palli said, “Subject to the petitioners filing an undertaking, till the next date of hearing, the respondent (Delhi government) will stand restrained from interfering with the service of herbal hookah.” She also said that the decision can change if there is any change in the current COVID-19 situation in Delhi.

Earlier this year, the Delhi High Court had asked the Aam Aadmi Party government to reconsider its decision of banning herbal hookahs in public spaces in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the breath analyzer test had been reinstated by the authorities.

Five separate pleas by restaurants and bars had been submitted in the Delhi High Court in this regard, and the bench has issued the order in their favour, stating that herbal hookahs can be sold in public spaces for the time being, following the COVID-19 norms.

In an order issued on October 14, the Delhi government had stated that the prohibition on the use of hookah, with and without tobacco i.e. herbal hookah, water pipes, and other hookah-like devices would continue in all public places including hotels, restaurants, pubs, etc.

(With agency inputs)

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