A Bench of the Delhi High Court on Wednesday lashed out at Delhi's civic and police authorities and stated that there is no executive or political will to remove illegal hawkers and vendors from streets and barring Lutyens' Delhi, there is no place in the city which is clear from unauthorised squatters. The vendors must be paying their Haftas to the authority.
"Then why spare Lutyens' zone. They should be all over here. Let them be in front of the President's House, Prithviraj Road, Delhi High Court, India Gate and make it a jungle. Why leave this area, we all should face it" the Bench stated while finding that there was no headway in the removal of hawkers from the streets.
However, the Bench while recognizing the fundamental rights of the vendors and hawkers to earn livelihood asked the North MCC to immediately start the process of preparation of the street vending plan for which the corporation should involve experts from the field of planning, including from the School of Planning and Architecture, IIT, PWD and other bodies.
It directed the civic body to file a status report indicating the steps taken in this regard and made it clear that its Commissioner shall be personally responsible for complying with this direction and listed the matter for hearing on December 6.
The Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh was hearing a plea by Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal seeking direction to the authorities to remove illegal hawkers and vendors from the no-hawking and no-squatting area in Chandni Chowk, which has recently undergone redevelopment.
The Bench has been monitoring the redevelopment work in the Chandni Chowk area for several years, observing it was getting a feeling of complete defeat in this matter while finding out that there is no change of situation due to lack of will to redress the issue.
If there is no political and executive will, then let it go the way it has to, why should we be bothered. We are getting a feeling of complete defeat in this matter, the anguished Bench stated adding all street vendors must be paying their Haftas' to authorities that is why they are sitting there and that is the reason the officials do not want any improvement in the situation.
The Bench observed that "Looking into the existing population of Delhi and huge influx in the city from all over the country, it may not be practically feasible to completely stop the activity of hawking and vending in Chandni Chowk. People have become habituated to hawk in this area even though it is a no hawking and no vending zone. Large population is unemployed and they find it easier to hawk and vend to meet their livelihood needs."
Hawking and vending are recognised as fundamental right, the Bench observed and pointed out that, in our view, it is of utmost importance that the administration undertakes the task of preparing a street vending plan under the Street Vendors Act at the earliest so that the acts of hawking and vending can be regulated and vending seizes to be a nuisance, which it is currently.
It further stated hawkers and vendors not only earn their living but make it convenient for people to buy goods at reasonable prices and they certainly have a significant role to play in the economy of the city.
The Bench opined that there was no point in removing hawkers today and they will come back tomorrow and there is a need to find out a permanent solution to the problem. Either you all (authorities) get together and put your hands up that you can't do anything because you are ill staffed or whatever. There is a lack of will to it. Don't tell us that when the police and municipal authority want to do something and it is unable to do it. Either you sort it out or we will issue contempt notice.
It further stated that the ground reality is that every area is a hawking zone now and Luthyens' zone is the only part of Delhi that is clear from this problem. Now even those who do not vend would be interested in getting themselves registered in the survey so that they can get the benefits out of it and there will be a surge in the number of vendors.
There are too many loose ends in the scheme and in the ground reality and too many holes in the story. The issue is that there is no executive or political will in the matter. Illegal vendors will be rewarded and relocated to other sites for not following and complying with the court orders, the Bench stated.
With PTI inputs