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Sumana Das, Pune

On Tuesday, the Calcutta High Court set aside the civic entities’ order to ban hookah parlours in Kolkata. According to Justice Rajasekhar Mantha, until the State government comes up with a new law for the same, putting a ban on it would not be a wise decision.

During the hearing, Justice Mantha said that if the State wants a proper shutdown, then they have to pass a new law for the execution of this specific abolishment. He added that now the ban does not have any effect, police can not book any hookah bar or profiles concerning it, that provide kalian to the customers. He also pointed out that a lot of revenue is generated from this area, so they cannot close the places just like that.

Last December, Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) came up with a prohibitory notice of banning the license of all the hookah bars in the city stating that no new licenses will be issued. According to Mayor Firhad Hakim, these particular bars use hazardous chemical substances which stand as a threat to the health of all the citizens who are consuming them. Therefore, he decided to cancel the licenses of the bars. The Bidhannagar civic body followed suit after this, and also imposed similar regulations regarding the joints.

The National Restaurant Association challenged the prohibition after moving the rift to the High Court, as the police force of Kolkata and Bidhannagar had started an active crackdown on the joints and booking people under Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act. Justice Mantha asked for an affidavit documentation from the police officials of both Kolkata and Bidhannagar to get the proper grounds on which the police were conducting themselves on this matter. He then declared that they have no rights to continue such activity.

On Tuesday, the High Court went on to declare that neither the municipal body nor the police force can decide the ultimate fate of these smoke pot joints. After the decision was announced, a senior police officer from Lalbazar said that from now on the police will follow the court order.

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