THE COMMISSIONER of Panchkula Municipal Corporation, Rajesh Jogpal, on Thursday tendered an unconditional apology to the Punjab and Haryana High Court for not responding to a court order. Jogpal received an earful from the court for evicting vendors from the Sector 19 Ramlila Ground without providing them an alternate space.
On March 14, Jogpal had been summoned by the High Court and the Panchkula Chief Judicial Magistrate was asked to issue bailable warrants to secure his presence. During the resumed hearing of the contempt plea filed by Rehdi Faddi Roazgar Samiti, Jogpal told the court that though his office had received an intimation from the Advocate General’s office regarding the pending litigation, his staff had not put the file before him.
“There is a Vendors Act. They are required to be provided an alternate site before removal. Why have you constructed a wall (near the gate of the ground)?” said Justice Jaswant Singh while addressing the officer. “Try to resolve it Mr. Jogpal. You are a public servant.”
The government counsel told the High Court that the vendors had occupied the space outside the ground on a road and would create “hindrances” there. The counsel, representing the vendors, opposed the government’s submission and informed the court that the vendors were evicted from inside the ground even before the survey was completed.
Rehdi Faddi Roazgar Samiti, in its petition, had alleged that despite the court order that no vendor can be removed from the Sector 19 Ramlila Ground till registration of the vendors and identification of vending and non-vending zones in Panchkula district, the authorities evicted them.
“Please do not remove anyone forcibly. At least give them a day to shift. Do not take the law in your hands,” the court told the officers present in court while asking them to take corrective measures to provide an alternate site to the evicted vendors till the process of vending and non-vending zones was complete.
The single bench was also informed that the authorities were in the process of providing and developing alternate sites for vendors in the district.
The Haryana government had informed the High Court in November 2017 that an agreement has been signed with a private firm to conduct the survey throughout the state of Haryana. According to the provisions of the Street Vendors Act, the vendors cannot be evicted or relocated till the certificates of vending were issued to the vendors and the vending and non-vending zones are identified. The vendors of the Sector 19 ground had been removed in December and they moved the High Court with a contempt plea against the Panchkula Deputy Commissioner and the Municipal Corporation.