Nagpur: Serving hookah to minor can be a serious offence. Atleast the recent instance clears the air. The owner and manager of Salsaa restro and lounge, located opposite Futala lake, now may face imprisonment which may go up to seven years and fine extend to Rs 1 lakh if the charges against them for serving ‘tobacco products’ are proved in the court. City police, for the third time in the last fortnight or so, invoked section 77 of the amended Juvenile Justice Act (care and protection of children) or JJ Act, 2015 against the management of the hookah parlour.
In the latest case on Sunday, Ambazari police have booked owner Nishant Jaiswal (28) and his manager Pratik Gaur (24) under sections 21 and 24 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 or COTPA, 2003) and section 77 of JJ Act. The duo has been also charged for violation of Maharashtra police Rules. The property is owned by Rekha Koram. Jaiswal is learnt to have taken the premises on rent to operate a restaurant where hookah was served with flavoured tobacco.
Ambazari police, led by Asst PI Suraj Surose under Senior PI Atul Sabnis, stormed the restro-lounge premises following a tip-off. API Surose said that there was a crowd of around 15-20 customers. “Two of the customers revealed their ages as 15 years which prompted the police to collect their Adhaar card on the basis of which the actions under JJ Act was initiated. If these minors divulges before the court the manner in which the tobacco was served to them by the management, it can lead to conviction,” he said. “The amended act helped us to act against the Hookah parlours as the tobacco product has been brought under the purview of the enactment,’ said Surose.
Jaiswal and Gaur were put behind bars. The cops also have seized three hookah pots and five pouches of flavoured tobacco which would be subsequently sent to Regional forensic science laboratory (RFSL). The duo was presented before the court on Monday.
It has been reliably learnt that some of the hookah parlours have also knocked the doors of High court seeking intervention into their plight as there is no law against hookah parlour though smoking cigarettes have been banned in public places.
City police had scripted several successful crackdowns against hookah parlour especially by crime branch under DCP Ranjan Kumar Sharma. Sitabuldi and Sadar police had undertaken actions against hookah parlours in the last few days under DCP Rakesh Kalasagar. Sadar police had invoked section 77 of JJ Act including in one instance where ACP Somnath Waghchaure had conducted the raid.