The Bombay High Court Friday directed the BMC to take action against street vendors who cook food on streets in the city after giving them notice of two months to stop the practice.
The court said that all existing vendors as on May 1, 2014, covered by law will not be evicted by the BMC until a survey is carried out and certificates of vending are issued. But all those who have started business after this date will be evicted as per procedures laid down in law in an “expeditious” manner.
The court said that those engaged in cooking or preparation of food items on a “street, lane, side walk, footpath, pavement, public park or any other public place or private place either from a temporary structure or by moving from place to place” were not covered by the definition of street vendor under a relevant provision of the Street Vendors Act. Consequently, it said that “such a vendor shall not be entitled to protection under subsection (3) of Section 3 so long as he is indulging in cooking or preparation of food items.”
The BMC has been directed to take action against all those who do not stop cooking on streets within the time specified in a notice served on them. “Eviction shall be initiated by the municipal corporation following due process of law immediately on expiry of a period of two months from today,” the High Court order said. The civic body has been told to take legal recourse to contest any proceedings challenging such eviction. “We direct the corporation to create a tracking system for all such litigation so that they are promptly attended to,” the High Court said. The High Court bench comprising Justice Abhay S Oka and Revati Mohite Dere said those cooking on the streets are not covered by the definition of street vendors.
Recent surveys have shown there are at least one lakh hawkers in the city and a rough estimate shows at least five lakh people depend on hawking as a source of income. Civic estimates indicate close to 40 per cent of hawkers sell food stuff.
The court observed that unfortunately, the state government lagge “far behind” in implementation of the Street Vendors Act. Non-implementation meant no scheme for street vendors, and consequently no rules within the stipulated time. The chain that would have eventually led to issuance of vending certificates was not in place. Therefore, existing vendors, the court said, cannot be evicted.
The High Court directed the Urban Development Department to set an outer limit to formulate a scheme, frame rules and constitute a vending committee for street vendors.
Petitioners had raised concern over the rising number of illegal hawkers around educational institutions. Among the petitioners are principals of the Mithibai College of Arts, and Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics. It was pointed out in another petition that there was congestion on the streets due to mushrooming of illegal street vendors.