In a major setback for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's clean-Mumbai drive, the Bombay high court on Tuesday temporarily restrained the civic body's clean-up marshals from collecting a fine from those littering public places.
"Sovereign powers cannot be given to private persons," the division bench of justice SA Bobade and justice RD Dhanuka noted while hearing a petition filed by ESS Infra-Projects Pvt Ltd, an association of ready-mix concrete truck owners. The association challenged the civic body's decision to appoint private security guards as clean-up marshals.
"Levying fine or imprisoning is a sovereign power required to be authorised by the legislature or the Parliament," the judges said, adding, "Power cannot be conferred upon private persons by way of framing bye-laws by the corporation (BMC), which is neither the Parliament nor the legislature."
The association had approached the high court after clean-up marshals detained some ready-mix concrete trucks on September 7 at Ghatkopar for littering the road. Counsel for the petitioner association, Mukesh Vashi, submitted that clean-up marshals levied a fine of Rs10,000 because the trucks had mud on their wheels.
The trucks were seized and kept at a municipal yard after drivers refused to pay the fine amount.
Subsequently, truck owners approached the concerned assistant municipal commissioner and the vehicles were released on his instructions.
Vashi said the vehicles were detained for hours, which led to a loss of around Rs30,000 because the ready-mix concrete had dried up by then.
In its petition, the association claimed that the ready mix does not spill onto the roads even when the trucks are passing through and the drum containing the mix is rotating.
The court has now posted the petition for further hearing on Tuesday.