An eating house licence does not automatically include permission to serve hookah or herbal hookah, the Bombay High Court said while refusing relief to a suburban restaurant facing revocation of licence for serving herbal hookah.
A division bench of Justices G S Kulkarni and R N Laddha in its order dated April 24 noted that hookah cannot be one of the items being served in a restaurant where children, women and elderly visit for refreshments or food.
“This would amount to an absolute nuisance in so far as an eating house is concerned. Further, if this is to be a reality, the impact it would create on such customers at the eating house can just be imagined,” the court said.
It further observed that if every eating house in the city was permitted to provide hookah, then it would result in a “situation beyond one’s imagination” and would be “totally uncontrolled”.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by one Sayli Parkhi challenging an April 18, 2023 order passed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) stating that the eating house licence granted to her restaurant ‘The Orange Mint’ would be revoked/cancelled if it continues to serve hookah/herbal hookah.
The civic body’s claim was that the restaurant was using flame or burnt charcoal for the herbal hookah activity, which was endangering public safety and putting customers’ lives at risk.
The court, while refusing to stay the BMC’s order, said the restaurant has been rightly prevented from undertaking hookah activities.
It noted that this was not a case of a pure hookah parlour, but was a case wherein licence has been granted for an eating house and this would not include hookah activities.
It further observed that the civic body and its commissioner were not expected to keep a continuous vigil on the hookah trade/activities of the petitioner, including her claim about its herbal ingredients.
“Once it is clear that hookah activities are not part of the eating house licence conditions, such activity cannot be permitted,” the court said, adding that the grant of a licence to operate an eating house does not include permission to conduct hookah activities.