The new Act is called COTPA (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2018 and was granted the President’s assent in September.
Mumbai: A petition has been filed in the Bombay high court against the state government’s decision to ban hookah parlours in the state. Dinesh Gaikwad owner of Carnival restaurant of Pune has filed the petition. He has questioned that if cigarettes and bidis have not been banned, who’s nicotine level is higher, then why hookah? The high court has asked the state to file its affidavit till December 17.
A bench of chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice M.S. Karnik was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by owners of hookah parlours, in which they have challenged the new law brought into effect by the state government in October.
On October 4, the Maharashtra government brought into effect a statutory amendment to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition) Act (COTPA) of 2003 to ban hookah parlours. The new Act is called COTPA (Mahara-shtra Amendment) Act, 2018 and was granted the President’s assent in September.
It prohibits any person from “owning or opening and running on behalf of someone else, a hookah parlour at any place in the state, including at eating-houses.
As per the petition, the state government introduced the amended Act following the incident of fire at the Kamala Mills compound in the city last year. The state’s resolution notifying the new Act also mentioned that it would help curb incidents of minors, college students etc.
The petitions also state that the Kamala Mills fire resulted not because of the consumption of hookah but because the owners of the restaurant had not complied with the state and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) rules on demarcating a separate, safe place for hookahs.
The petitioners have challenged the new law, arguing that it breaches their Constitutional right to earn a living. The petitioners have argued that the Constitution permits the state to impose reasonable restrictions in the light of greater public interest, but in the present case, the state has not imposed restrictions but, instead, “entirely eliminated” their means of livelihood.