Streets, footpaths cleared for PM and VVIPs, why not for everyone: Bombay High Court

The high court last year took suo motu (on its own) cognizance of the issue of illegal and unauthorised hawkers and vendors in the city.
Last Updated : 24 June 2024, 09:45 IST

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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday said when streets and footpaths are cleared for the prime minister and other VVIPs for one day, why can't it be done on a daily basis for everyone else too.

Having a clear footpath and a safe place to walk was every person's fundamental right and the state authorities were obligated to provide the same, a division bench of Justices M S Sonak and Kamal Khata.

The state cannot perpetually just wonder what can be done to work out the problem of unauthorised hawkers encroaching upon footpaths in the city and has to now do something drastically, the bench said.

The high court last year took suo motu (on its own) cognizance of the issue of illegal and unauthorised hawkers and vendors in the city.

On Monday, the bench said while it knows the problem is large, the state and other authorities, including the civic body, cannot just leave it at that and called for some drastic action.

"When the prime minister or some VVIPs come, the streets and footpaths are immediately cleared...and it stays so till they are here. How is it done then? Why can't it be done for everyone else? Citizens are ratepayers...they need to have a clear footpath and safe place to walk," the court said.

"Footpath and a safe place to walk is a fundamental right. We tell our children to walk on footpaths but if there is no footpath left to walk on, what do we tell our children?" the court asked.

For years together, the authorities have been saying they are working on the issue, it said.

"The state has to do something drastically. It cannot be that the authorities are perpetually just wondering what to do and working on it. There seems to be a lack of will, because where there is a will there is always a way," the HC said.

Senior counsel S U Kamdar, appearing for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said periodic action is taken against such vendors and hawkers but they keep coming back.

He said the BMC was also considering the option of underground markets.

The court then remarked in jest that the corporation was literally trying to bury the problem underground.

The bench noted the fine imposed by civic bodies on these vendors/hawkers was irrelevant as they have higher sales per day.

"Your fine is pittance to them. They will pay and leave," the HC said.

The court suggested the BMC to develop a database identifying all such hawkers so that they do not breach orders and come back with their stalls.

"Let there be a combing operation. Start with one street...the biggest trouble is identification. They keep coming back because they are not identifiable," it said.

The court posted the matter for further hearing on July 22.

Published 24 June 2024, 09:45 IST

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