High Court worried over rising number of illegal street vendors

‘Where do people walk? We don’t want another Lajpat Nagar’

Published - November 18, 2021 01:43 am IST - New Delhi

Vendors wait for customers ahead of the festive season in west Delhi.

Vendors wait for customers ahead of the festive season in west Delhi.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday expressed concern over rising number of street vendors, majority of them sitting illegally, in the Capital, saying, “We can’t let the city go to the dogs, we are here to protect the rule of law”.

A Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh said, “What is the number of street vendors? Your population may keep on rising but the area Delhi has is a constant. So how many vendors are you going to be permitting? What are the zones? Where all they will be? It is bursting at the seams”.

“Please understand for a place where there are 120-odd tehbazaari right holders, there are about 4,000 (vendors). Where do people walk? We don’t want another Lajpat Nagar, Nehru Place...What is the plan?” the Bench said.

Issues notices

The court issued notices to the Delhi Government, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and Town Vending Committee (TVC), North DMC Zone on a plea by Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal seeking direction to strike down various provisions of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Scheme, 2019.

The plea said the scheme is arbitrary, discriminatory, illegal and contrary to the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulations of Street Vending) Act, 2021 and Rules, 2017.

When senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi Government, urged the Bench to keep its hands away for three months so that things get done, the Bench shot back saying, “Forget about three months, three months is too long, not even a single day... We have not said anything or passed any order staying actions of the TVC.”

“We are very clear Mr. Mehra, we can’t let the city go to the dogs. We are here to protect the rule of law. Rule of law does not mean you only look at one constituency and say that look their rights are there, they need to be protected. Vendors have a right but no right is absolute,” the Bench said.

The court directed the authorities submit details of the current TVC and the background of NGO members, who have been included in the TVC.

The court is seized of a batch of petitions challenging the validity of Street Vendors Act, its implementation, certain provisions of the scheme and other connected issues raised by various market associations and vendors and hawkers. It has posted the case for further hearing on December 8.

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