The Greater Chennai Corporation and the city police have decided to jointly draw up a comprehensive plan categorising different localities depending upon their residential or commercial characteristics and then fix the working hours for eateries, restaurants, shops and other commercial establishments in those localities.
The plan would be submitted before a Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad of the Madras High Court on November 12. Additional Government Pleader E. Manoharan said the officials would make sure that the timings were fixed in a pragmatic manner, giving weight to various practical considerations.
During the course of hearing of a related case, it was suggested that eateries and restaurants near railway stations and bus termini could be allowed to work for longer hours in the night because otherwise passengers travelling during odd hours would face difficulties and might have to suffer without availability of food.
Similarly, commercial establishments situated on busy economic stretches such as the Rajiv Gandhi IT corridor (popularly known as OMR) could be given certain exemptions from restricted work hours because the populace over there works during nights.
In other places that were purely residential localities and were not commercial hubs, the officials could restrict the working hours of hotels and shops to prevent law and order issues that arise due to late night joints which serve as a meeting point for anti-social elements.
The decision to fix different timings depending upon the nature of the localities was taken during the hearing of a public interest litigation petition accusing the police of reportedly not allowing commercial establishments in the city to remain open beyond 11 p.m. thereby causing much inconvenience to people who work and travel at odd hours.
It was claimed that neither the Tamil Nadu Catering Establishments Act of 1958 nor the Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishments Act of 1947 imposes restrictions on the working hours of restaurants and shops.
Shops were entitled to keep their shutters open round the clock and the police could not force them to close early, the petitioner contended.