Allahabad High Court has directed the Chief Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh government to prohibit serving hookahs in bars, cafes, and restaurants until further orders in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases.
The state’s Chief Secretary has been asked to submit his response and a compliance report through a personal affidavit by the next date of hearing. The matter has been listed for September 30. The bench has also ordered Chief Secretary to show cause to clarify why the letter petition should not be accepted.
Advocate Vinayak Mithal has been appointed as an amicus curiae in the matter by Allahabad High Court.
Taking the matter as suo moto, the division bench comprising Justice Shashi Kant Gupta and Justice Shamim Ahmed has treated the petition as a PIL. The petition was filed by an LLB student Hari Govind Dubey requesting prohibition of serving hookahs in bars, cafes, and restaurants.
“Prima facie smoking has emerged as an independent risk factor not only for transmission but also COVID-19 severity, similarly, hookah smoking is also prima facie an ideal mode to transmit and facilitate the spread of the contagion through shared use,” observed the court.
High Court has pointed out various ill-effects of hookah to increase the transmission of coronavirus which include hazardous chemical substances affecting the respiratory system, the communal nature of the single mouthpiece smoking pipe which is being used by many users, and difficult to clean long-pipes with a cold water reservoir.
“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,” noted the bench.
The court further observed, “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.”