The Delhi High Court noted on Saturday that there is no absolute right and it must be weighed against the rights of others, saying street vendors have a basic right but when they use a public method, they are violating someone else’s right to walk. On hearing a set of petitions in the Street Vendor Act 2014, the House of Judges Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said that street vendors should be given proper seating and proper stalls in every market. “They should have a proper license. Then you don’t have to pay ‘hefta’ to the police,” the court said.
The court inquired about a “bottleneck” in law enforcement. “What has been the frequency in the past seven years?” The court said that the authorities should come up with a street sale plan taking into consideration aspects such as safety, security, cleanliness, roads, etc. The authorities need a plan every five years but “unfortunately, there is no plan at the moment,” she said.
“People who were sitting in their hands should be required to disclose their property and income. Those who sell in the streets have basic rights but there is no absolute right. Even if the old ones are old, they should give way so that the old site is allotted fairly. When you want to use a public road or street, you are impinging on someone else’s right to walk.” It cannot be as if no one can touch you. There must be some application of reason to what can be allowed. You have to see the density of the area, how many selling can be allowed.”
The Court has commenced hearing arguments on a set of petitions challenging the validity and implementation of the Street Vendors Act and certain provisions of the National Capital Territory Government of Delhi Street Suppliers (Protecting Livelihoods and Regulation of Street Vending) scheme, 2019 and other relevant provisions issues raised by market associations Various vendors and street vendors. Senior Advocate Sanjeev Raleigh, who is appearing before the New Delhi Merchants Association, which represents shopkeepers and operators in Connaught Place (CP) district, explained the court’s previous rulings on this case and how things went before the courts.
Referring to an earlier ruling, Raleigh, along with attorney Mohit Medjal, said street vendors cannot infringe on the rights of other citizens. When some lawyers tried to intervene and file subpoenas, the court said, “First we want to see what the rulings are, and then in that context we want to see how the Street Sellers Act came about. We don’t want to lose focus.” “This is a dynamic situation. What we are looking at is the law that came in 2014 and its implementation… There are more and more areas. There may be more people who may be allowed to sell. So we will have to see the law and the blueprint but first, a plan has to come.” Selling on the streets, adding that “we were not painted in any picture or drawing.” The bench noted, “Can it be said that it is just because the law is not properly enforced so that the sellers sit wherever they want. We want proper enforcement of the law so sellers’ problems are over. They should get proper places to sit, and proper stalls in every market. “