Delhi High Court today said that street vendors cannot sell their wares in areas which were identified as non-hawking zones under the earlier schemes on street vending.
The court modified its September 9 order that said no street vendor should be evicted from city roads without following due process of law.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said it was modifying its September 9 order as the aspect of non-squatting zones were not inconsistent with the 2014 Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Act which prohibits vending activities in non-vending areas.
The court noted that though the Act came into force on May 1, 2014, “there were several lapses in proper implementation of its provisions and consequently, no vending zones have not yet been declared”.
“Having regard to the fact that declaration of non-squatting zones or non-vending zones is not inconsistent with provisions of the Act of 2014, which expressly prohibits carrying out vending activities by street vendors in non-vending zones,..
“…We consider it appropriate to direct as an interim measure that non-squatting zones declared under the schemes prior to enforcement of the Act shall continue to be non-squatting zones for the time being so as to balance the larger interest of general public,” the bench said.
It directed the Delhi government to explain, by way of an affidavit, “the steps being taken or proposed to be taken for creating a conducive framework to implement the provision of the Act within a timeline”.
On New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) contention that there has to be more than one scheme under the Act, the court said it was of the prima facie view that framing a separate scheme for the civic body was “impermissible under the law”.
“On a combined reading of the Act and Rules it appears to us that only one scheme has to be framed by appropriate government for entire national capital territory of Delhi in consultation with local authorities and town vending committees,” the bench said.
The observation came while denying NDMC’s plea that it be allowed to go ahead with its survey of street vendors as provided under the Act.
“Unless we can decide if there can be more than one scheme, we do not want to decide NDMC plea,” the bench said.
The court directed Delhi government, NDMC and other
municipal corporations to file counter affidavits within four weeks on whether there can be more than one scheme under the Act and listed the matter for hearing on November 7.
NDMC’s application was moved on a PIL by Congress leader Ajay Maken, filed through advocate Aman Panwar, seeking directions to the authorities not to evict street vendors till the Act was implemented and a scheme formulated for survey of the existing vendors and issuance of Certificate of Vending (COV).
The court had yesterday lamented that delay in formulating a scheme to carry out a survey of street vendors in the city and issuing them certificates to sell their wares on the roadsides has “defeated the purpose” of the law.
The scheme was to have been formulated within six months of the 2014 Act, the court had said.
The court had also said the way the Delhi government was proceeding to formulate a scheme “was not in accordance with provisions of the Act”.
The authorities, including the municipal bodies, had argued yesterday that the non-vending zones that existed prior to the Act should continue as there cannot be a vacuum in the absence of a scheme.
They had also raised security concerns over “unrestricted movement” or squatting of street vendors anywhere in the national capital, especially during the festive season.
Maken in his PIL has alleged that despite unambiguous provisions of the Act and clear directions of this court, authorities “proceeded to illegally evict over 500 street vendors” on August 17.
“The civic bodies have neglected Section 3.3 of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, which states that no street vendor shall be evicted or relocated till a survey has been completed and the certificate of vending is issued to all vendors,” it has said.
Recently, the high court had stayed enforcement of the AAP government’s amended rules and scheme for regulating street-vending activities in Delhi and protecting the rights of urban street vendors.
“Since the Delhi government has failed to frame a legally tenable scheme as envisaged under Section 38 of the Act and the enforcement of the scheme prepared by the GNCTD has been stayed by this court on August 8, 2016, police and municipal authorities, taking advantage of the absence of the scheme, and in complete violation of the provisions of the Act, have been arbitrarily evicting street vendors,” the plea said.
The petitioner has also sought direction to the police and the civic bodies to reinstate the vendors recently “illegally evicted” from various parts of Delhi and urged the court to issue a direction to the LG to ensure compliance of the Street Vendors Act.
( Source – PTI )