NEW DELHI: The rights of street vendors are being "grossly affected", the Delhi High Court has observed and asked the AAP government to expeditiously set up vending committees through elections to address their grievances.
A bench, headed by Justice G S Sistani, asked the city government to set up a Town Vending Committee (TVC) in each municipality and consider the representations of the street vendors in the national capital.
The court gave the direction after Congress leader Ajay Maken, along with some NGOs and traders' associations, alleged that the law on setting up of town vending committees has been violated by the government as these bodies do not comprise the elected representatives of the vendors.
The high court said that the matter "may be looked into expeditiously, as the number of cases are increasing and, on the other hand, we find that there are obstructions on roads and pavements as well and in the absence of formation of TVC, rights of street vendors are being grossly affected."
"Prima facie, we find the stand taken by the petitioners to be fair and just for the reason that as a general principle of law, a rule cannot override the basic provisions of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014.
"We request the respondents (Delhi government and civic bodies) to consider the representations of street vendors and the submissions made and recorded in the order passed," the bench, also comprising Justice Chander Shekhar, said.
Senior advocate Kirti Uppal, representing a petitioner NGO and lawyer Aman Panwar, who appeared for Maken, had contended that an election should be held among over 1,32,000 vendors whose names were mentioned in the lists prepared by a various committees formed to deal with the allotment of places for the street vendors.
A batch of petitions have challenged the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, which was enacted to regulate street vendors in public areas and protect their rights.
They have also challenged the rules and the schemes of the Delhi government in this regard.
They prayed that the court should monitor implementation of the provisions of the Act until certificates of vending are issued to the street vendors and the grievance redressal and dispute resolution committees as provided under the Act became functional.
According to the Act, the government shall constitute a town vending committee under each municipal corporation. This means, Delhi will have five town vending committees - one each under the East, South and North corporations, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB).