Make license conditions of hookah joints tougher, HC to BMC

Last Updated: Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 21:21

Mumbai: Cracking whip against errant hookah
parlours in the city, Mumbai High Court on Thursday directed the
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to incorporate the
rules under `Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act` in the
license agreements.

With this, the BMC will have the power to revoke the
license if a hookah parlour violates COTPA rules.

The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and
Justice Girish Godbole was hearing a PIL filed by NGO `Crusade
Against Tobacco`, alleging that hookah parlours were selling
tobacco products (hookahs and others) to minors, and violating
several other rules under COTPA.

"There is an urgent need to incorporate the terms and
conditions of the Act in the license agreements of hookah
parlours. Any violation of the Act would invite revocation of
the license (then)," Chief Justice Shah said.

The court directed the civic body to comply with the
order within six weeks.

Earlier, the court had been informed that police does not
have powers to revoke licenses, and can only fine the
parlours, while BMC cannot take action either, because
provisions of COTPA are not a part of license agreement at
present.

The bench had, on May 2, summoned the police
commissioner, after petitioner alleged that police officials
from suburban Bandra and Khar were not acting on complaints
against local hookah parlours.

Commissioner Aroop Patnaik had assured that action would
be taken. In the affidavit filed today, the commissioner has
stated that 18 cases have been registered against errant
hookah parlours in the past three days.

"Action has been also initiated against three police
officials from Bandra and Khar police stations for neglecting
the petitioner`s complaint," Government Pleader KR Belosay
told the court today.

"But this enquiry will take a lot of time. Why these
police officers cannot be transferred to some other place? As
of now you (police) have only issued warning letters to them.
Is it enough?" Chief Justice Shah asked.

Belosay told the court that he would seek instructions
from the commissioner. The bench has directed the commissioner
to conduct further probe and submit a fresh report by July 7.

The court also suggested that a workshop be held for the
policemen to apprise them of the COTPA rules.

According to the PIL, hookah parlours in the city do not
have separate smoking and non-smoking sections. This exposes
non-smokers to second-hand smoking, and is a clear violation
of the provisions of the Act, it says.

The PIL also points out that the Supreme Court has banned
smoking in public places, after observing that a non-smoker
cannot be compelled to be a victim of air pollution.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 21:21

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