July 14, 2011 12:09:10 am
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday upheld a circular issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) prohibiting the sale of hookah in parlours attached to restaurants.
Restaurant owners had challenged the corporations circular of July 4 stating that the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act,2003,does not provide for a complete ban on hookah. According to the petitioners,the circular that restrains restaurants from selling and facilitating the consumption of hookah is against the central legislation.
They said the corporation cannot incorporate these provisions in the rules for prohibition of smoking in public places at the time of issuing licences to restaurant owners.
Although the circular does not impose a ban on smoking in restaurants,it mandates that they must have a separate area for smoking. However,no apparatus,cigarettes,matchsticks or lighters should be provided by the restaurant in the smoking area which is open to patrons above 18 years.
BMC counsel Neeta Joglekar told the court that the licences are issued to restaurants annually.
Arguing for Crusade Against Tobacco (CAT),that had filed the PIL alleging that hookah bars in the city were violating the provisions of the central legislation,lawyers Zal Andhyarujina and Sanjay Kadam said the municipal commissioner could use his discretion to incorporate the provisions in their rules.
Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice G S Godbole observed,BMC imposing such conditions cannot be said to be without any authority. The court also asked the state government to direct all the corporations in the state to incorporate the provisions of the circular,thus banning the sale of hookah in restaurants across the state.
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