Hookah bars may reopen in UP after HC intervention

Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh): There is finally some good news for those in the business of hookah bars.

The Allahabad High Court has asked authorities in Uttar Pradesh to deal with applications, seeking grant or renewal of licence to run hookah bars, preferably within a period of one month from the date of filing.

All hookah bars run in different districts of the state were discontinued in 2020 during the spread of Covid-19.

A bench comprising acting Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice Saumitra Dayal observed, “Covid-19 pandemic restrictions have been largely relaxed and therefore the interveners may be allowed to recommence their business. They have relied on the facts and circumstances of similar businesses being allowed to run in different states of the country.”

Additional advocate general, Manish Goyal, representing the state government, submitted that hookah bar owners have yet not applied to the statutory authority under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, for fresh licence. In case they apply, their request will be considered strictly in accordance with law, as expeditiously as possible.

“In view of the fact that undisputedly the business of running of hookah bars is regulated under the aforesaid Act, it is left open to the individual interveners to apply to the statutory authority for grant/renewal of licence to run their respective hookah bars,” the court said.

The counsel appearing for the hookah bar owners urged that restrictions imposed during Covid-19 pandemic have largely been relaxed and therefore, they may be allowed to recommence their business.

Hari Govind Dubey, an LL.B student at University of Lucknow, had filed a letter petition with the high court in 2020, over the issue of spread of coronavirus through hookah bars in the state.

The court took cognizance of the same and treated the letter as a PIL.


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