With the Delhi High Court turning down the request of over 230 street vendors,who sought a direction allowing them to reoccupy their vending sites in the New Delhi Municipal Council zone,areas under the civic body will continue to remain free of squatters. The court also refused to interfere with the NDMCs decision to remove vendors from its areas.
Justice Hima Kohli refused to pass a favourable order on a bunch of petitions filed by vendors,who sought a direction enabling them to occupy the vending sites in accordance with a stay order from the Supreme Court. On July 15,the apex court had passed an order to maintain status quo in the matter. The order was subject to the Union government legislating a new law for regulating urban street vending.
The vendors claimed before the High Court that as no scheme was operational in the NDMC areas to regulate vending activities and the law was yet to be enacted,all the petitioners irrespective of their legal status should be allowed to continue hawking.
They also argued that the Council,in collusion with the police,had threatened to illegally remove vendors from different sites even though many were found eligible for allotment of specific tehbazari sites. Moreover,the provisions of the Special Provisions Act came to the rescue of the vendors,as it required maintenance of status quo,as existing on June 2006,till the end of December 2011.
The NDMC counsel,however,opposed their re-entry or continued occupation contending that the status quo by the apex court could only mean that the state of affairs,as existing on the date of the said order,was not to be disturbed until the rights of the parties could be determined through legislation.
The counsel said as the apex court was aware that Parliament was yet to enact a law on urban street vending,it had only inferred that vending was to be regulated by the dispute redressal mechanism of the NDMC.
After perusing contentions from both the sides,Justice Kohli noted that adjudicating the petitions required examination of the meaning,scope and effect of the apex courts order. The status quo order is a clear signal to the High Court to avoid granting any order,including an interim order,when the Supreme Court has directed that status quo should be maintained. In such circumstances,if this court was to grant a stay order in favour of vendors,it would be tantamount to negating the orders of the Supreme Court,which require the parties to maintain status quo pending enactment of appropriate legislation, the court noted.
The court said if either of the parties were unclear about the interpretation of the status quo order,they could approach the SC for clarifications. In such circumstances,the present petitions are disposed of by declining grant of any interim orders to the petitioners. However,liberty is granted to both the parties to apply to the Supreme Court for a clarification of the status quo order, court held.