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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Publicise WhatsApp numbers of shopkeepers, avoid complete shutdown, Bombay HC tells authorities

The petitioner told the court the authorities had announced a complete shutdown in containment zones from May 15 to May 20, causing inconvenience to both the consumers and shopkeepers selling essential goods.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai | Updated: May 27, 2020 11:52:50 pm
Hyderabad, Hyderabad Street Food Vendors, Street Food The petitioner told the court the authorities had announced a complete shutdown in containment zones from May 15 to May 20. (File)

In a bid to avoid a complete lockdown in containment zones, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has suggested to the municipal corporation to publise WhatsApp numbers of shopkeepers so that citizens can avail home delivery of groceries and other essential commodities.

The suggestion was made by a division bench, comprising Justices Prasanna Varale and Shrikant Kulkarni, via video-conference while hearing a petition filed by Aurangabad-based businessman Muzaffaruddin Khan.

“We may suggest the corporation to explore the possibility of publishing the WhatsApp numbers of the shopkeepers in the notified/particular areas. This may facilitate the consumers in advance to place the orders for grocery articles or other articles of daily needs. This would save the time of consumers in selecting the articles and then getting the delivery of these articles at counter,” the bench said.

Representing the petitioner, advocate Muhammad Aseem told the court the authorities had announced a complete shutdown in containment zones from May 15 to May 20, causing inconvenience to both the consumers and shopkeepers selling essential goods.

The petition sought the HC to give directions to the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation to allow shops in containment zones to open for a limited period daily instead of complete lockdown. On May 19, the court had asked the corporation to file its detailed response to the petition within a week.

On Tuesday, the AMC, through advocate SG Chapalgaonkar, filed an affidavit, stating that shops located in containment zones were allowed to open between 7 am and 2 pm daily from May 20 and thus the demand raised by the petitioner was addressed.

The civic body also said after the lockdown was enforced, a 24-hour call centre and a helpline was started to address the grievances of residents living in containment zones.

The HC also suggested that the authorities should urge shopkeepers to pack groceries in one, two and five kg packets for the convenience of home delivery to the consumers living in containment zones.

“The authorities may also explore the possibility of making grocery articles ready in one, two and five kg packets on deliberation with the traders’ association/the shop owners association. This may also facilitate the consumers to get these articles at the earliest as it may also save the time of shopkeepers in delivering these articles to consumers,” the bench said.

The court also suggested that the details of names and numbers of nodal officers for Aurangabad city be widely published in English and Marathi newspapers once a week to assist the needy citizens.

Disposing of the petition, the bench said, “We are aware of our limitations. We are also aware of the fact that this court is not expected to take charge of the administration nor is expected to indulge in monitoring trade activities but for peculiar circumstances, we are prompted to provide these suggestions.”

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