A division bench of the Sindh High Court on Friday declined to take up a case challenging a ban on Sheesha smoking as one of the two judges on the bench admitted to himself being a smoker.
The bench comprising Justices Maqbool Baqar and Muhammad Shafi Siddiqui was assigned the hearing of a petition filed by the owners/managers of three restaurants challenging a recently imposed ban on the use of Sheesha at public places.
As soon as the file was put up before the judges, Justice Maqbool Baqar, heading the bench, told counsel for petitioners: “You better try your luck elsewhere. I smoke and know the damaging effects.” He further said that Sheesha is more injurious as water does not make it clean.”
M. Ilyas Khan, a senior lawyer appeared for the petitioners, who serve Sheesha at their restaurants and hotel situated in posh localities of the city. The ban on Sheesha was imposed under section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code and therefore it is illegal, argued counsel for petitioners. “The governor should have issued an ordinance,” he contended.
“Do you want an ordinance to ban it,” asked the bench and said it “will pass such orders directing respondents to come up with an ordinance.”
Ilyas Khan submitted that ban was discriminatory and if at all any step is necessary, it is to prohibit the use or serving of Sheesha to minors. “Sheesha is in use since 400 years and mostly in Muslim countries,” he said seeking steps and orders for regulating its use.
“Sorry, most of the users are minors. Do you really feel a regulation would work?” the bench remarked while dictating the order declining to hear the case.
The petition will now be fixed before another bench available or a specially constituted bench.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2012.
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