The Bombay high court on Monday directed the Thane police chief to file a personal affidavit following an allegation that the local police were hand-in-glove with owners of a hotel where hookah was being served to minors in spite of a ban that was imposed earlier this year.
“Our first impression is that the loyalty is for the hotel and not for the rule of law,” the division bench of justice Ajay Khanwilkar and justice Mridula Bhatkar commented on the allegation that local police were trying to shield the owner of Hotel Hollywood-18 in Thane instead of initiating action against him.
The comment came after Vincent Nazareth of Crusade Against Tobacco, an NGO, pointed out that volunteers of the non-government organisation had, in September 2012, spotted more than 100 youngsters smoking hookah at the hotel. When they approached the local police, he said, somebody from the police station tipped off the hotel management. When they returned with a police team there were no hookahs or youngsters there.
“The allegation that the police are hand-in-glove with the hotel owner is a serious one that requires to be dealt with by a senior officer,” the judges told additional government pleader KR Belosay while directing the commissioner of police (CP) to file a personal affidavit two weeks after Nazareth files an affidavit with details of the incident.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the NGO complaining that despite the high court upholding the validity of a circular issued by the civic body in July 2011 by which a ban had been imposed on hookah parlours in restaurants and hotels, hookah is being served at many places. Now, the NGO has approached the court complaining hookah is often being served to youngsters as well.