Apex court denies relief, vendors in Chandigarh must relocate by Dec 5
The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday dismissed the plea of Rock Garden street vendors against MC’s decision to declare Sectors 1 to 6 as non-vending zones, and subsequent decision to shift them.
The vendors had approached the apex court after not getting any relief from the Punjab and Haryana high court (HC), which in October had directed the municipal corporation (MC) to start shifting registered vendors to designated vending zones.
Refusing to interfere in the special leave petition filed by the vendors against the HC order, the SC bench of justice DY Chandrachud and justice Ajay Rastogi observed, “Since the high court is seized of the proceedings in the matter and is monitoring the entire issue pertaining to the carving out of vending and non-vending zones, we are not inclined to exercise our jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution.”
“We leave it open to the petitioners (vendors) to bring the grievance to the notice of the high court,” the apex court held.
Lalu Prasad, a vendor at Rock Garden, is one of the petitioners in the case. His advocate APS Shergill said another petition was being filed by Sukhna Lake vendors in SC against the HC order.
Shergill said, “We had requested the SC to make sure that we are heard before the HC.”
Senior advocate Puneet Bali, who has also filed a caveat on behalf of the Sector-17 traders to remove the vendors, clarified that no vending can be allowed in Sectors 1 to 6 and Sector 17, as these comprised UNESCO heritage sites. He added that whether it were Rock Garden or Sukhna Lake vendors, the SC ruling will have bearing on all petitions.
The HC on October 17 had directed MC to remove all illegal vendors with immediate effect and relocate the registered ones within four weeks.
The order from the high court bench of justice Ravi Shanker Jha and justice Rajiv Sharma had come on a batch of pleas from vendors, RWAs and market associations, including traders’ body of Sector 17.
On November 19, the UT administration had told the high court that vendors in these Sectors had been given a deadline of December 5 to relocate.
Thereafter, they will face forcible eviction. The relocation notices slapped on vendors operating in these sectors will expire on December 4.
THE BONE OF CONTENTION
Sectors 1 to 6 and 17 have been declared non-vending zones, which means that all vendors except those providing essential services (cobblers, tea/milk/bread/egg sellers, cycle/rickshaw repairs, dhobis and barbers) will be shifted.
Vendors have been voicing their opposition against this, claiming relocation will affect their livelihood due to lower footfall of customers.
As per initial surveys, there were 22,000 vendors in the city, of which 9,356 were found eligible to be considered for relocation to identified zones. While 2,800 vendors are mobile, 6,685 need to be accommodated in 5,034 sites in 44 vending zones.
In the first phase, 3,250 vendors will be relocated from Sector 17 and the first six Sectors, 1,800 alone to Sector 15, where residents are up in arms against the move.