Sheesha cafes: Court seeks definitions of ‘open’ and ‘public place’
LAHORE, Nov 26: Hearing several petitions against a ban on the use of “Sheesha”, the Lahore High Court chief justice on Monday asked counsel of the city district government and the petitioners to come up with clear definitions of “public place” “open place” and “open space”.
Earlier CDGL’s counsel in his arguments relied upon section 2 (c) of the prohibition of smoking and protection of non-smokers health ordinance 2002 and said place of public work or use included auditoriums, buildings, health institutions, amusement centres, restaurants, public offices, court buildings, cinema halls, conference or seminar halls, eating houses, hotel lounges, other waiting lounges, bus stations or stands, sports stadiums, educational institutions and libraries which were visited by general public but did not include any open place.
He said any restaurant, public office, hotel lounge were places of public work or use holistically and any portion thereof whether open or closed could not be excluded by taking refuge into the expression of “open place”.
The counsel pointed out that the government had already declared any “open space” attached, appurtenant or on the premises of place of public work or use mentioned in the section 2 (c) of the ordinance as a no-tobacco use and no smoking place.
On the other side, the petitioners’ counsel insisted that un-constructed area of a restaurant/hotel was called “open space” and Sheesha could be offered at that place.
The chief justice adjourned further hearing till Dec 10 and directed the counsel on both sides to come up with arguments and clear definitions of the open place, open space and public place.
The Sheesha cafes’ owners had challenged the government’s crackdown and submitted that the use of Sheesha was not harmful for health nor it was a prohibited product.
They said the cafes had designated places for Sheesha smoking which did not fall in the category of public place.
The petitioners requested that the government should be restrained from taking coercive measures against the cafes following a ban on the use of Sheesha.