The Bombay high court directed Thane police commissioner KP Raghuvanshi on Monday to file a personal affidavit regarding allegations levelled by NGO Crusade Against Tobacco that policemen are allowing a hookah bar to operate freely in the area despite the government-imposed ban.
A division bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice MR Bhatkar issued the notice and said, “Our first impression is that the loyalty is towards the hotel and not the rule of law.”
The observation was made during the hearing of a public interest litigation that alleged that the local police were trying to shield the owner of Hotel Hollywood-18 on Ghodbunder Road in Thane.
In July 2011, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had issued a circular by which an implied ban had been imposed on hookah parlours running within restaurants and hotels with the inclusion of three new conditions in their licences.
The PIL said that despite the HC upholding the validity of the circular issued by the civic body which imposed this ban, hookah bars continue to operate.
Vincent Nazareth of the NGO informed the court that in September, its volunteers had spotted more than 100 youngsters smoking hookah at the hotel, after which they approached the local police. However, somebody from the police station tipped off the hotel management and the place was cleared of all such activities by the time it was raided.
The court has also directed Nazareth to file an affidavit within two weeks stating details of the incidents at Hotel Hollywood-18.
Acting on the PIL, the court had on October 5, 2011, directed all civic bodies and the police to act promptly on complaints about violation of the license conditions and lodge prosecutions against them wherever necessary.
The court will now hear the matter in four weeks.