New Delhi: Cracking down on `hookah bars`, the city police on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that its senior officers will conduct raids to ensure that anti-smoking laws are enforced against restaurants which illegally run such joints in the city.
"The DCPs have been asked to conduct raids in restaurants where hookah bars are being run," Najmi Waziri, counsel for Delhi police, told a bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw.
Civic bodies -- NDMC and MCD -- also told the court that they have not provided licenses to restaurants to run `hookah` bars.
The court, meanwhile, asked MCD and Delhi Government to file their replies within two days to the PIL filed by NGO World Lung Foundation South Asia through its president G R Khatri seeking "effective" implementation of anti-smoking laws at public places and preventing restaurants from running `hookah` bars.
However, National Restaurants Association of India today moved an application seeking its impleadment as a party in ongoing hearing of the PIL.
"We are the necessary party and we be heard also," Lalit Bhasin, appearing restaurants` body, said. The plea was allowed by the bench which asked it to file reply to the PIL and fixed the matter for hearing on September 5.
Earlier, the court had issued notices to the Central Health Ministry, Delhi Government, MCD, NDMC and Police on the PIL.
The NGO, in its plea, has sought to effectively implement the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement ... And Distribution) Act (COTPA) and the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules.
The NGO, in the PIL, alleged some restaurant owners, who obtained license for serving foods, have been running hookah bars and this is violative of the license conditions under the laws governing MCD and the NDMC.
Claiming that it has conducted a survey, the NGO said, "Some of hookah bars are operational and are serving hookah in the eating houses in flagrant violation of the terms and conditions of the license."
"As per the Municipal Act, the eating joints which have been granted license cannot run hookah bars as it comes within the mischief of Section 4 of the Act.
"Issue directions to respondents to cancel the license of the eating houses who are running hookah bars without sanction of law," the petition said.
The NGO also sought direction for the civic agencies to incorporate a clause in their licenses to restaurant owners to prohibit them from operating hookah bars.
It added that hookah-smoking is responsible for lung cancer, respiratory disease and low birth weight of babies.
"The combination of charcoal and tobacco is unique to hookah smoking and the charcoal has its own set of health effects in addition to the effects associated with tobacco use.
"Additionally, the use of the shared mouthpieces during smoking session can spread infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, herpes, influenza, and hepatitis," it said.