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No separate licence needed for hookah bars, reiterates High Court

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Bengaluru: Reiterating that there is no need for a separate permission for operating a hookah bar within a separate enclosure or smoking zone as per the law other than a valid trade licence, the High Court on Tuesday asked the BBMP to consider the objections of three hookah bar operators against show-cause notices issued to them by the civic agency.

Justice A.S. Bopanna passed the order while disposing petitions by Mudassar Pasha, Lakshman K. Mehtani and Hayati Ventures questioning the notices for allegedly violating provisions of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003.

In view of the Supreme Court’s decision in a Mumbai municipal corporation case, the HC said no separate trade licence is required under the Municipal Corporations Act for operating a hookah bar, provided that such establishments adhere to provisions of COTPA, 2003 and had a valid trade licence.

Pointing out that there are around 400 hookah bars in the city, the petitioners alleged that the BBMP had been targeting a few during the peak business season of the year end and the beginning of new year, and pointed out that the notices were issued on December 24, 2016.

While asking the petitioners to submit their objections to the notices, the court asked the BBMP to take a decision considering their objections.

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