Despite SC relief, no hookah bash in Indore bars this new year

The Supreme Court relief on serving hookah in pubs has not brought any change in Indore. With the festive season round the corner, no café, pub or lounge is willing to take the lead.

indore Updated: Dec 25, 2014 18:05 IST
Nida Khan and Vinit
Nida Khan and Vinit
Hindustan Times

The Supreme Court relief on serving hookah in pubs has not brought any changes to the city. With the festive season round the corner and invitations for new-year bashes rolling out, interestingly no café, pub or lounge is willing to take the lead and serve hookah as a part of their extravaganza in Indore.

"We used to serve hookah before the ban. Though the order has allowed us to go ahead with it, we are yet to plan out things in this regard. We are choosing not to serve it for the new-year celebrations," said Ravindra Thakur, food and beverages manager at Sheesha Sky Lounge.

A deep fear of high-handedness by the administration exists among these café owners. Prior to the ban in the Indore city in 2011, more than 120 hookah parlours — small and big — existed.

Putting a ban on serving hookah in bars, the administration had quoted the presence of anti-social elements at these pubs. Frequent raids and penalties were billed on cafes in the city by the administration during the check on the implementation of ban.

A report was also submitted by Dr Sharad Pandit, the then chief medical health officer, who had quoted the ill-effects it caused on a person's health. Indore district administration had clamped Section 144 of CrPC against facilitation of smoking hookah consecutively for more than nineteen times in the past three years. Surprisingly, the section is still on in Indore even after the apex courts' verdict.

Willing to take no chance, the cafés whose main attraction was the huge array of flavours they served want to wait for the district administration's nod.

"We had a huge section which catered to the exotic flavours we had on offer. But after the ban was lifted, we are yet to restart the venture as we fear the behaviour of the administration in this regard," said Ravikant Deshmukh, manager of another café in the city.

Moreover, when advocate Mitesh Jain was inquired on this matter he said, "One can obtain the certified copy of court orders and start operating hookah parlours even without the consent of the district administration. Since the ban on facilitation is declared as ultra-vires to the provisions of Cigarettes Act by Supreme Court."

However, Sudir Kochhar, additional district magistrate of Indore, said, "We will study the verdict copy and then act as per provisions of law. Whatever the law states, the same will be done by us."

First Published: Dec 25, 2014 15:19 IST