‘Can’t let city go to dogs’: Delhi HC on unregulated street vending

The court told the Delhi government that it takes the state’s assurances with a pinch of salt. Connaught Place is flooded with vendors despite being a no-hawking and no-vending zone, the court remarked.

Expressing concern over unregulated street vending in the markets, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday said that it cannot “let the city go to dogs” and told Delhi government that it takes the state’s assurances with a pinch of salt.

“We are here to protect the rule of law. Rule of law does not mean only you look at one constituency and say that look their rights are there, they need to be protected. You look at the very first judgement of the Supreme Court where clearly the constitution bench says that yes they (vendors) have a right but there is also a limitation because there are rights of others also,” said the division bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh said.

The court said that Connaught Place is flooded with vendors despite being a no-hawking and no-vending zone. “When it is a no-hawking and no-vending zone, why should they in the first place be permitted there? When you permit them, you permit them in such an unregulated way that today that market has lost its character,” it added.

The bench further said that people have paid lakhs and crores of rupees as rent to run their shops there and “a particular kind of people” go there to transact business. “What is happening is those shopkeepers are saying look, we made the mistake of abiding by the law, taking our shop on rent for lakhs of rupees to run our business and today we cannot do it because in front of our shops there are 10 vendors sitting,” it said.

Reiterating that recognised vendors and hawkers are an essential part of our ecosystem, the court said, however, every day it is flooded with related petitions. “What is troubling us today and what is a cause of concern for us is that what is the number of street vendors? Your population may keep on rising but the area Delhi has is a constant. So how many vendors are going to be permitted? asked the court.

Meanwhile, during the hearing of a case connected to Chandni Chowk redevelopment, the division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani remarked that the matter has “possibly taken longer than the Taj Mahal” after it was told that the condition at the market remains “pathetic”.

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