The Bombay High Court on Monday granted interim relief to around 200 hawkers from Musafirkhana, near Crawford Market, by restraining police and the civic authorities from taking coercive action against them in accordance to orders passed by the Maharashtra Lokayukta. While hearing the matter, the vacation bench, however, made it clear that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) can act independently and pass necessary orders in this case as per the law.
The hawkers, many of whom have been selling fabric and cutlery in the area, had approached a vacation bench of the high court challenging a demolition order issued by the Lokayukta office in January 2017. The Lokayukta had carried out a suo motu inquiry and issued directions to the police to take action against the stalls pointing out that they had made illegal extensions and encroached upon pavements on either side of the roads leading to obstruction of traffic. The Lokayukta had directed the police to take appropriate action within four weeks from the order.
The hawkers, through their counsels, argued that demolishing stalls would breach their rights to life, dignity and earn a livelihood. They also challenged the validity of the Lokayukta order, arguing that the allegations of encroachments on public streets by hawkers do not fall within the purview of the Lokayukta. They argued that the Lokayukta had issued the demolition orders without granting them a hearing. The high court is likely to take up the matter for hearing on June 5.