While hearing a petition filed by the Shri Vile Parle Kelawani Mandal, seeking action against illegal hawkers around Mithibai College, the Bombay high court reprimanded the civic body for its lax attitude in allowing hawkers to set up their stalls in a no-hawking zone and preventing them from reappearing after being evicted.
A division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice Mridula Bhatkar made it clear that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) could not wash its hands off, as it is the statutory body responsible for removing illegal hawkers in the city.
“Don’t take everybody for a ride. Don’t tell us that you cannot remove them. Ensure they don’t come back,” justice Majmudar said, cautioning the civic body of strict action if it fails to comply.
Stating that people are tolerating the ‘helplessness’ of the corporation, the court commented that, “everybody wants a footpath and people should be complimented and rewarded for their patience.” “Don’t test their patience to the limit,” justice Majmudar warned.
Representing the civic body, Komal Punjabi informed the court that the BMC had taken action against illegal hawkers on March 22. However, the evicted hawkers had returned to the same spot.
The civic body said that it had sent notices to illegal hawkers and also lodged FIRs and now it for the police to act against them. The court, however, said that the notices were eyewash.
Punjabi also submitted that the corporation would welcome public participation for the removal of illegal hawkers. The petitioners said the area close to Mithibai College is a no-hawking zone, but stalls are abutting the wall of the college premises, selling articles such as pan and tobacco, which is not to be sold around educational institutions, counsels for the trust VA Thorat and Jamshed Mistry said.
The judges stated that it was unfortunate that the Supreme Court’s order restraining hawkers in a no-hawking zone had not been followed. The court held that this is a mockery of justice and asked the civic body how the hawkers managed to put up their stalls again.
The court has suggested that the municipal commissioner take note of the measures for protection and beautification of public places to prevent hawkers from setting up their stalls in no-hawking zones.
The court has asked the civic body to file an affidavit about the steps already taken for removal of illegal hawkers by December 21 and cautioned that the court will summon the municipal commissioner if it is not satisfied with the affidavit. The court has also summoned the ward officer from K-West to be present during the next hearing.