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Barely a month before the Lok Sabha polls, the UPA has notified two key laws — to empower India’s Dalit population and give about 10 million street vendors legal protection.
The amendment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill — came into force from Thursday. They are among a slew of laws that was notified by the government in a hurry before the code of conduct kicked in.
In the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, several new offences committed against Dalits including imposing social or economic boycott on SC/STs, obstructing use of common property resources, forcible tonsuring of head and garlanding with footwear have been made criminal offences. These acts though widespread are not covered currently in the existing law.
The Dalits are seen as a crucial votebank for political parties across the spectrum. According to Census 2011, SC & ST’s comprise 24 % of India’s total population.
The other law that came into force from Thursday — the Street Vendors bill mandates municipalities to set up restriction free vending zones/ night bazaars where hawkers can sell their wares without being harassed by the authorities.
Presently, there is no law to regulate and safeguard the interest of urban street vendors in India.