Elphinstone Road station stampede indication of what happens if hawkers sit anywhere: Bombay HC
“The presence of a large number of hawkers on the foot overbridge is said to be one of the major contributing factors in the said mishap,” the bench saidmumbai Updated: Nov 02, 2017 00:39 IST
The recent stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station, in which 22 commuters lost their lives, was an indication of what could happen if hawkers were allowed to squat anywhere they please, the Bombay high court said on Wednesday. It held that hawkers cannot squat beyond designated zones.
The division bench of justice Bhushan Gavai and justice MS Karnik rejected the claim of several hawkers’ unions that non-hawking zones have been abolished owing to enactment of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 and they were free to vend anywhere after the Act came into force.
The bench said the unfortunate incident was an indication of what could happen if hawking was allowed without any regulation. “On account of mad rush of the passengers, there was commotion on the narrow foot overbridge, which led to loss of 22 precious human lives,” said the bench. “The presence of a large number of hawkers on the foot overbridge is said to be one of the major contributing factors in the said mishap,” it added.
The bench said there will be no regulation over the business of hawking, if hawkers thought that in view of abolition of non-hawking zones they were entitled to squat anywhere in urban areas.
“The Authorities will be powerless to take action against hawkers, even if the business of causes threat to free flow of traffic and also causes threat to the security of citizens,” the judges said, adding, “Obviously, the legislative intent could not have been to permit all this.”
The bench said while considering the rights of hawkers to vend on streets, it will have to balance the rights of the pedestrians to walk on the footpaths and the citizens to drive on the roads. If the hawkers’ claim was accepted, “it will create a chaos in all the cities,” the bench said.
It has now directed all municipal corporations, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), not to allow any hawking within 100m of any place of worship, educational institutions and hospitals and within 150m of municipal markets or railway station. It has also directed no hawking be permitted on foot overbridges within the railway premises, as directed by the Supreme Court in 2004 and reiterated five years later.
The court also directed municipal corporations not to allow hawking anywhere except earmarked zones.