The commissioner of police, Arup Patnaik, has assured the Bombay high court that he will personally look into the growing menace of hookah parlours in the city and ensure that necessary action is taken.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice DG Karnik summoned Patnaik on Monday while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a city-based NGO, Crusade Against Tobacco, and its member Vincent Nazreth against police inaction against hookah parlours in the city, especially in the suburban Khar.
The PIL filed in March states that several hookah parlours have cropped up in Mumbai in violation of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Act (COPTA).
Patnaik informed the court that he received information about it (alleged inaction in Khar) on Monday afternoon only. “This came to my notice today only. Although the complaint was received by my office on Saturday,” he said.
On court’s request Patnaik also promised to meet Nazreth and speak to him personally.
Chief justice said: “He (Nazreth) has made a complaint that whenever he tries to lodge a complaint, the police officer does not take down the FIR immediately and intimation is sent to the hookah parlour. As a result when raid is conducted, nothing comes in hand.”
Additional government pleader KR Belosay informed the court that the police have taken action against hookah parlours and 327 cases have been registered since January 1, 2010.
Belosay also submitted an affidavit filed by Rajkumar Vhatkar, deputy commissioner of police (operations), which admitted: “It is true that menace of hookah parlours is growing recently in the city.”
Stating that the police have “swung into action” against hookah parlours, Vhatkar’s affidavit states that 68 parlours between Colaba, Dahisar and Mulund were raided and 327 cases are registered under the provisions of the Bombay Police Act.”
Also, a circular was issued by the commissioner of police on December 9, 2010, asking all the police stations “to take strict action against hookah parlours and against those found smoking in public places to curb menace in coffee houses, juice centres, restaurants, bars and permit rooms under the provisions of the COPTA.”
The affidavit further adds: “Khar police (against whom petitioner has alleged inaction) raided 21 places in 2010. Police is very vigilant in this matter and is taking necessary action.”