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The matter was taken up suo motu by the High Court, after it received a letter petition from an LL.B. student seeking a ban on serving of Hookah amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Allahabad High Court recently passed an order directing the Chief Secretary, State of Uttar Pradesh to not permit bars, restaurants, and cafes to serve Hookah until further orders.
The Chief Secretary was further asked to file his response and a compliance report by the next date of hearing through a personal affidavit.
The matter was taken up suo motu by the High Court, after it received a letter petition from LL.B. student Hari Govind Dubey seeking a ban on serving of Hookah at establishments amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Bench of Justices Shashi Kant Gupta and Shamim Ahmed noted that the Chief Secretary was directed to show cause as to why the letter petition should not be accepted. However, no response was received from the state government.
In its order, the Bench noted,
Adding that a few countries had already placed restrictions on hookah use amid the pandemic, the High Court highlighted the ill-effects of the practice as follows:
Communal nature of water pipe smoking meant sharing of a single mouth piece and hose between users, especially in social settings.
Difficult-to-clean long pipes and a cold water reservoir makes them ideal for coronavirus transmission.
Hookah smoke contains several hazardous chemicals in addition to tobacco that may injure the respiratory lining, exposing the smoker to viral infections, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.
Citing situations of vast community spread, the Bench added,
“It may not be out of place to mention here that in one such incident at the Jind Village at Haryana, hooka sharing resulted in a chain of covid infections and as a result the Village had to be sealed while imposing a ban on hookah smoking.”
The Bench went on to observe,
"The Pandemic is spreading like wild fire despite harsh lockdowns and is threatening the existence of human life. The situation is very grim. We are standing in a forest of darkness and do not know what tomorrow holds.
It cannot be denied that corona-virus cases are increasing day by day and in case public places such as Restaurants & Cafes are not restricted from serving Hookah with immediate effect, there might be chances of vast community spread of corona-virus cases in Uttar Pradesh."
The High Court has also appointed Advocate Vinayak Mithal as Amicus Curiae in the matter to assist the Court.
The matter will be next taken up on September 30.
Read the order here.