Observing that pedestrians are pushed from the footpaths to the roads because of illegal hawkers occupying the footpaths, the Bombay High Court on Monday refused to stop demolition of illegal stalls on St Louis Road in Four Bungalows in Andheri West.
A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata said it is unable to grant relief since these stalls continue in “perpetuity” and repeated applications are made for stay against demolition.
The bench has asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to file its reply to the petition filed by Char Bangla Vyapaari Sangh seeking stay on the proposed demolition drive planned by the civic body from September 12 onwards.
“Because of you, pedestrians have to walk on roads...Hawking policy does not mean you can go and hawk wherever you like,” Justice Patel said.
“Illegal” demolition, decry hawkers
According to the petition, 131 of the 250 hawkers had approached the court seeking stay on the “illegal”, arbitrary and high-handed action of demolition” of the stalls without giving them prior notice.
The petitioners claimed that they have been there for over 40 years. As per the Street Vendors Act, the survey was done in 2014, but the certificate of vending is not issued to these petitioners or any other vendors.
In May, Lashakaria Builders acquired some societies for redevelopment projects in the K/West ward. The builder initially approached the vendors and asked them to remove their stalls from the footpath where he is about to start the redevelopment project, the plea claims.
"Structures in question are undoubtedly on a public footpath," observes court
After going through the petition, the bench remarked that the photographs attached shows that these vendors have occupied the entire footpath. “The photos submitted show that these stalls have been put on footboard. The pedestrians are pushed into the carriageway which is used by motorists… The Structures in question are undoubtedly on a public footpath.”
Picture submitted in court | FPJ
“For reasons we indicated and considering the wider ramifications, and the failure to show licence under (Street Vendors) Act, we are unable to grant any relief. These vendors will continue in perpetuity with grant of protections,” noted the HC in its order while refusing to grant protection from demolition.
Justice Patel remarked: “These stalls have been there for four decades, which should not be acceptable. Question which must be asked is, why these petitioners continued all these while with authorisation.”
The court has asked the government pleader to take instructions and file a reply by September 14. The HC has kept the petition for hearing on September 15.