Delhi Government has opposed the plea filed by various bars and restaurants seeking permission from Delhi High Court to sell and serve herbal flavoured hookahs.
Justifying its decision, the Delhi government said that it would like to continue the prohibition on the use of hookah be it with and without tobacco in all public places including hotels, restaurants, eatery houses, bars, pubs, discotheques in the national capital for the purpose of prevention and control of the outbreak of COVID-19 infection.
The submission of the Delhi government came on an affidavit filed through its standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi.
The government cited the World Health Organisation (WHO) report which stated a single mouthpiece and hose are often shared between users, especially in social settings which can be a potential transmission of coronavirus infection.
"As per WHO and CDC, the act of hookah smoking includes, touching hookah by many hands, close contact of fingers with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth. Thus, allowing herbal hookah in open spaces may worsen the situation and increase the transmission of COVID-19," the government submitted.
Delhi Government submitted that Bars/Restaurants/Eatery houses do not take any separate license for serving of hookah and are registered under the Food Safety & Standards Act of 2006 and Regulation 2.1.1(5) of the Food Safety & Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Business) Regulation, 2011 as 'Food'.
"Considering herbal hookah as a food product is not at all justified," the government said.
It is important not to lower our guard for an unnecessary and ill-intended service which is likely to increase the severity and transmission of COVID-19, it said.
The government prayed to Delhi High Court to dismiss the petition saying that the bonafide endeavour of the answering respondent should not be thwarted by the petitioner's vested interest of economic gain at the cost of public health.
Delhi Government had earlier told the court that the authorities concerned on October 14, decided to continue the ban on the use of hookah till further orders.
The high court had directed the state government to reconsider the issue within five days or file an affidavit if it thinks the continuation of prohibition is necessary.
Several bars, restaurants, eating have recently approached the Delhi High Court requesting the court to issue direction to the Delhi Government and Delhi Police not to interfere with the sale /service of herbal flavour hookahs and not to take coercive/ adverse steps.
Advocate Nandini Sahni appearing for the petitioners contended that individual hookah will be provided to the customers and will not be shared with other customers at any cost, in the restaurants and eatery houses run by them.
The petitioners also sought a Court direction to restrain respondents not to cause any obstruction or interference in the smooth running of eating house, restaurant, bar of petitioner and allow service of herbal hookahs in the restaurant and bar.