Why High Court Upheld Karnataka’s Ban on Hookah?
April 23, 2024

Why in News? The Karnataka High Court upheld the state government’s ban on hookahs as being in the interest of the general public, and ruled that hookah bars were an illegal “service” under India’s anti-tobacco law.

What were the Karnataka Government’s Arguments in the Court? Article 47 (in Part IV - DPSP) of the Constitution places a duty on the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health, which includes the prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health. Though directive principles are not enforceable by any court, they are fundamental in the governance of the country.

What were the Petitioners’ Arguments in the Court? According to several restaurant owners, the government’s notification to ban hookah violates their fundamental right to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business guaranteed by Article 19(1)(g).

What the Karnataka HC Ruled? The HC held that Article 47 was intrinsically linked with the right to life with dignity under Article 21. The court held that the freedom guaranteed by Article 19(1)(g) can be subject to certain reasonable restrictions in the general interest of the public. A directive principle such as Article 47 can be used to justify a restriction on citizens’ rights under Article 19(1)(g).

What the Law Says? In 2008, the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules was brought into force under the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003 (COTPA). Amended in 2017, the rules states “No service shall be allowed in any smoking area or space provided for smoking”. However, hookah smoking needs rendering of services in the designated area (The Karnataka HC).