'Inaction Of Authorities Encouraging Illegal Hawkers': Bombay HC

'Inaction Of Authorities Encouraging Illegal Hawkers': Bombay HC

Court has asked the state, BMC and police to file their affidavits, detailing action taken by them against hawkers menace along with the steps to prevent the same.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, July 03, 2024, 02:12 AM IST
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'Inaction Of Authorities Encouraging Illegal Hawkers': Bombay HC | FPJ

Noting that the problem of unauthorised hawkers has reached “alarming proportions”, the Bombay High Court (HC) has said that the state and the BMC can't take their own “sweet time” on one pretext or the other and delay action. In a June 24 order, whose copy was made available on Tuesday, the court noted that despite several orders to the state and the BMC, implementation of the same continues to be a casualty.

Passing strict remarks, the court said that the state, BMC and the police, by their inaction, at least indirectly encourage such lawlessness. This compromises the rights and liberties of the citizenry, who complain and eventually become victims of brutal force, the HC underlined.

The HC had taken a suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the issue, while hearing a 2022 petition by mobile shop owners in Borivali, who claimed that access to their shops was blocked by illegal hawkers. The court has since been monitoring the actions of the state, the BMC and the police regarding various complaints against the “hawkers menace”.

The court noted that the petition was initiated two years back and the issue of illegal street vendors multiplies daily and they continue to be “nuisance or inconvenience to the public”. In March, the HC directed the BMC to monitor all street vending licenses by maintaining a database with biometrics of the vendors. Despite three months since the order, the civic body is yet to implement the same, the court noted.

The judges lamented that despite there being rules, regulations, and directions of the Supreme Court, the authorities are not very serious about implementation. Neither is there monitoring at the ground level nor is there any ready survey to distinguish between licensed and unlicensed hawkers.

The unlicensed and the licensed hawkers do not comply with the norms and are used to getting away paying the fines. “We still have the problem of scores of unlicensed hawkers who do not care for any law and order...The BMC claims to have acted against 1,77,204 vendors. The statistics show that this problem has reached alarming proportions,” the bench emphasised.

The judges also highlighted that the hawkers and street vendors have virtually taken over the streets and bylanes, leaving no place for pedestrians. “Merely because the members of the public are tolerant or possibly fed up with complaining any more to the civic authorities does not reduce the magnitude of this problem or their immense sufferings,” the judges added.

They underscored that the “public cannot be made to wait endlessly and keep tolerating this intolerable situation”.

When BMC counsel SU Kamdar said that when their staff goes to take action, they are beaten up. “Without saying as much, Mr Kamdar hinted that the municipal workforce was scared or helpless. This is an abject surrender to the forces of lawlessness.” The unauthorised hawkers are sending out a message not to even try to mess with them because their arms are longer and even more powerful than the law,” the court underscored.

It has asked the state, BMC and police to file their affidavits, detailing action taken by them against hawkers menace along with the steps to prevent the same.

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