The Calcutta High Court has held that in the absence of any rules by the State Government, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation or the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation cannot pass orders against use of Hookahs in bars and restaurants.

The bench of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha was dealing with a plea by the National Restaurant Association of India challenging directions restraining them from allowing their customers to use hookahs.

Senior Advocate for the petitioner submitted that his clients are strictly complying with the rules and regulations of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 and other applicable statues and rules.

The Court observed that since there is no law banning the use of tobacco, nicotine and herbal products in bars and restaurants, subject to the rules and regulations thereunder, neither the Kolkata Municipal Corporation nor the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation can restrict the use of hookahs.

However, the Court held that bars and restaurants are required to strictly comply with the provisions of the COTP Act 2003, other applicable statutes and the rules framed thereunder.

Advocates Jaydip Kar and Jishnu Saha appeared for Petitioner whereas Advocates Rajdip Roy and Anindyasundar Chatterjee appeared for Respondents.

The Court also noted, “This Court cannot ignore the fact that both the State and Central Government earn huge revenues from sale of tobacco products that are lawfully sold in this country.”

The Court held that the question of separate trade license for promoting the use of hookahs for a restaurant or bar does not arise and that any direction contrary to the above by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation or the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation is illegal.

The Court however clarified that this Order shall not prevent police from ensuring that other laws are not violated by the restaurant and bar owners.

Accordingly, the writ petition was disposed of.

Cause Title- National Restaurant Association of India and Anr. v. State of West Bengal and Ors.

Click here to read/download Order