Herbal hookah allowed subject to proper Covid protocol, Delhi government tells HC

The Delhi government told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that herbal hookah service is permitted in bars subject to compliance with appropriate COVID-19 protocol and other relevant conditions.

Delhi government lawyer Santosh Kumar Tripathi told Judge V Kameswar Rao that the case of the petitioner – a restaurant-bar owner challenging the ban on serving herbal hookahs – is covered by the order passed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on February 4 which allowed bars and restaurants to operate at 50% capacity.

The lawyer said the petitioners must undertake with the court to strictly follow COVID-19 appropriate behavior when serving herbal hookah in accordance with the court order passed in November last year.

The judge said the order allowing the petitioner to serve herbal hookah will be effective until the next court date.

Petitioner M/S Punter House Cafe, represented by solicitor Anubhav Singh, argued that authorities interfering with the sale and service of herbal flavored hookahs in restaurants violated Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.

The court also ordered the Delhi government to file its counter affidavit to the petition which challenged an August 3, 2020 order passed by the Department of Health and Family Welfare prohibiting the use of hookah, with or without tobacco, in public places due to the pandemic.

Tripathi said that smoking was banned in public places by law and since restaurants and bars are also considered public spaces, hookah service was banned by the Delhi government.

On November 11, when reviewing the order of the Ministry of Health, the court ruled that COVID-19 restrictions cannot be allowed at the expense of livelihoods and allowed the sale and service herbal hookahs.

The court clarified that it was granting permission to serve herbal hookah as an interim measure and that the then petitioners agreed to strictly follow COVID-19 appropriate behavior while serving herbal hookah. .

The Delhi government, in its affidavit filed in this batch of petitions, had stated that “the very nature of the hookah mechanism increases the risk of transmission of the virus” and that smokers infected with COVID-19 can spread the virus by floating. contaminated aerosols. particles in the air.

The case will be heard on April 20.

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