Twenty-three years after the Supreme Court took up the Delhi hawkers' case, it realised on Wednesday that the court was giving too much time to the issue.
A bench comprising Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly demanded of the counsel for New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD): "There are pavements and footpaths all over the country. People living over there too have a right. Then why this thesis only on Delhi hawkers?"
The bench was hearing some interlocutory applications related to the case that started in 1987.
"Your entire system is rotten. Courts cannot solve the problem," the court told the counsel.
It was piqued to know that applications were being filed despite a 1998 Supreme Court (SC) order banning it.
"Even the court was exhausted. But there is no success," said the bench.
It blamed the civic agencies for the mess and said it wasn't possible for the court to "sort the mess."
"You don't implement your own schemes related to hawking. Therefore, people are forced to squat," the bench said.
"Then the entire governance regularises illegality," the bench said, while slamming civic authorities.
The court also took a dig at the NDMC's decision to declare the Lutyen's Bungalow Zone (LBZ) as a no-vending zone.
When the NDMC advocate said it was a high-security zone, the bench shot back with the rejoinder: "Even India Gate is a high-security zone. But look at the mess that is created there. So many hawkers stand there that it becomes impossible for pedestrians to walk."
"It is the filthiest place in the morning. You just cannot walk there."
It specified the court was not in a position to either solve or give directions to civic bodies for declaring hawking zones.
"We do not have the time. We would prefer to devote time to cases where workers are waiting for justice or hear death sentence cases or probably a divorce case pending for years," the bench stated.