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SC bans cooked street food in Delhi

The Apex Court, however, feels ND's cops would be reluctant to enforce such a ban as extracting bribes from street vendors is seen as a job perk, reports Satya Prakash.

delhi Updated: May 18, 2007 01:15 IST
Satya Prakash

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave its final approval to the schemes of MCD and NDMC for regulating hawking and vending activities that envisaged ban on roadside cooking, except serving tea and coffee, in the capital.

Disposing of a bunch of petitions filed by hawkers associations and some NGOs including SEWA and National Association of Street Vendors of India, a Bench headed by Justice BP Singh, however, made certain modifications in the original schemes proposed by the two civic bodies.

The Bench also rejected the prayer of the NGOs for conducting a fresh survey for identifying hawking sites and existence of hawkers and left it open to the MCD/NDMC to take a decision in this regard.

Roadside cooking:
While approving the ban proposed on roadside cooking in the city, the Bench said that the vendors may be permitted to serve tea or coffee provided it does not result in disposal of any waste and the beverage is served in disposable glasses/cups and adequate arrangement is made for safe disposal of waste.

The schemes proposed timing for fixed vending sites as well as auto/rickshaw from 8 am to 9 pm and for vendors moving in residential areas from 7 am to 8 pm or as fixed by concerned Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs).

The court said that the timing of fixed vending sites may be changed depending on weather and other relevant considerations and that for moving vendors the timing could be changed in consultation with the RWAs.

The court emphasised that no rigid approach may be adopted in fixing the timings. It also said that the places like railway stations, buses, hospitals frequented by visitors at night should be exempted from rigid timings.

Rights of the pedestrians:
Keeping in view the pedestrians’ rights, the court directed that no tehbazari/vending sites shall be located on a footpath unless a clear 5 feet space is made available for pedestrians and that it should be made clear in the scheme.

Weekly markets:
The court said that the 227 weekly bazaars should be held only once a week and must be on the day on which local markets are closed.

The court asked the MCD to identify the area over which weekly bazaars may be held and ensure that no road or access any premises is blocked. If there is any open space available excluding the parks, MCD may allow to hold weekly bazaars there.

If necessary such bazaars shall be held at a place other than the current site, if the present location was causing undue inconvenience to local residents. The court did not fix any rigid timings of weekly bazaars but said it should not continue after 10 pm.

No middlemen in collection of revenue:
The court said that to avoid loss of revenue to the MCD the collection from these bazaars should be made by the civic body itself and middlemen should not be involved in such collections.

All-Women bazaars:
The court asked the MCD to consider whether some space should be reserved exclusively for women who may be allotted sites adjacent to each other in a particular block. IT may also be a good idea to establish markets where sites may be allotted exclusively to women for selling items, which particularly interest the womenfolk.

This may greatly convenience women shoppers who may have an exclusive place to go and shop for their personal needs, the court said.

“We have no doubt that in future planning of markets such considerations will weigh with the planners”, it said.

While agreeing that women deserve more protection than others, the court, however, refused to direct the MCD to give preference to women vendors or recognise daily markets only for women.

Daryaganj Book bazaar:
The court refused to direct the MCD to earmark Daryaganj weekly market for sale of books only saying it was for the civic body to consider it.

The court, however, observed: “The concept of weekly markets for sale of books only is a suggestion worth considering, particularly in view of the fact the readership of books is diminishing day by day on account of rising costs of books which many cannot afford. Such markets may provide an opportunity to have avid readers to purchase books at low cost. This would also serve the purpose of a book being read by many, rather than being kept in the shelf of a particular room.”

Vending Committees:
The court directed the MCD to modify its scheme an d provide that zonal vending committees shall be presided by a judicial officer not below the rank of additional district judge and the appellate committee shall be presided by a retired High Court judge.

No upper age limit of vendors:
While approving the MCD’s application Performa for vendors, the court made it clear there would be no upper age limit for vendors though none of the allottees should be less than 18 years of age on the date of allotment.

The MCD had proposed that there should be an upper age limit of 60 years for allotment of tehbazari sites.

NDMC areas better:
Observing that the areas falling under NDMC did not create problems like those under the MCD, the court approved the NDMC scheme as well. However, it directed that nobody should be allowed to violate the law in these areas too.

There were several persons engaged in tehbazari without having due licenses under the NDMC Act 1994. “We fail to understand why any person who violates the law should be tolerated,” it said.

The court also made it clear that its order would hold the field only till the time the competent legislature framed proper law regulating hawking/vending.

Identification of non-hawking areas:
The court did not agree with the view of the civic agencies that only non-hawking areas should be identified and the rest should be treated as hawking areas.

Taxi stands:
The court directed the Delhi government to take appropriate steps, whenever there is a complaint from the civic agencies about violation of rules by tax owners who illegally encroach footpaths and roads by parking their vehicles.

In such cases, complaints may be made to the district magistrate/SHOs of the area and who shall take appropriate action within a week. In case of persistent defiance, the Delhi administration may de-notify the taxi stand concerned.

Directions to police:
The court also issued a general direction to the police to assist MCD/NDMC in implementation of the schemes. “Any laches on part of the police would be seriously viewed by this court as amounting to a breach of its order,” it said.

The court also said that the authorities should also keep in view the national policy on urban streets vendors on the basis of which these schemes have been formulated.

According to the policy, the number of vendors in a city should be 2.5 per cent of the total population.

The court also asked the MCD/NDMC to consider that the total number of hawkers/vendors is worked out as per the latest population figures and not the 2001 census.