Raipur. For the past one year, the police have cracked down on hookah bars in cities like Raipur, Bilaspur and Bhilai. A bill to criminalize hookah bar trade in Chhattisgarh has got the assent of Governor Anusuiya Uikey. The Governor signed the changed draft of the Act for the Prohibition of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products, Advertising and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Supply and Distribution. Now this bill will be sent for the approval of the President.
The Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly had passed this amendment bill during the winter session. According to the new provisions, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, no person, himself or on behalf of any other person, shall open any hookah bar or operate a hookah bar or give hookah to customers at any place including a restaurant.
No person shall smoke hookah in any public hookah bar. A provision for confiscation has also been made by adding a new section in the amendment. According to this, if any police or excise officer of the rank of sub-inspector or above has reason to believe that the law is being contravened in the bar then any object or instrument used as the subject or instrument of hookah bar material or articles may be confiscated. After approval from the President, this act will be published in the Official Gazette. From then onwards, in the state of Chhattisgarh, the government will get the right to take action on hookah bars and punish the operators.
Through the amended law, there is also a provision for punishment for hookah bar operators and those who go there to smoke hookah. According to this, the hookah bar operator will be punished with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of Rs 50,000. The punishment shall not be less than one year in jail and a fine of Rs 10,000.
Through this law, for the first time, the government has tried to declare hookah bars and smoking there as a non-bailable and cognizable offence. This means that in this case the accused will not get bail from the police station. They have to be produced in the nearest jurisdictional court within 24 hours of their arrest. The concerned court will hear the bail of the accused.