The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was rapped by the Bombay high court on Wednesday for its “double standards” on the issue of permitting hawkers to sell cooked food.
A division bench of justice Ranjana Desai and justice Rajesh Ketkar asked the BMC to file a detailed affidavit explaining what the policy was in this regard.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Mohammed Yasin Shaikh, who had a licensed stall at Fashion Street, challenging the BMC’s rejection of his application to change the commodity he was selling. Shaikh had a readymade garments stall at Fashion Street from 2000. In 2009, the BMC acquired the stall for public purposes and relocated him to Nagindas Master Road, his counsel Ranjit Throat and advocate Pradeep Throat told the court.
Considering that there was no scope for readymade garments in the relocated area, Shaikh decided to sell cooked food instead. Accordingly, he applied to the BMC seeking “change in commodity” so that he could now sell cooked food, Ranjit said.
However, the corporation rejected his application. Shaikh then approached the high court asking that he be permitted to sell cooked food.
Ranjit pointed out that the Supreme Court, while ruling on the issue of hawkers, had said an authorised stall owner can be permitted to sell cooked food. “He (hawker) may not be allowed to cook there but he can certainly sell cooked food,” Ranjit said.
Also, there are several other hawkers at Nagindas Master Road who cook food and sell it, Ranjit said. To this, advocate for BMC replied that those hawkers (who cook and sell at stalls) were operating without a licence. “If that is the case then it calls for an inquiry. How can you allow an unauthorised hawker to cook food at stalls?” justice Desai asked.
Asking the corporation to consider Shaikh’s case, justice Desai remarked, “Consider his case, or throw out all the (unauthorised) hawkers from there. You can’t have double standards. You should have a fixed policy on these issues.”
The court has asked the BMC to consider whether Shaikh can be shifted to some other place where he could sell cooked food.
The corporation has been directed to file an affidavit by June 16.