“It needs serious consideration whether, while protecting and promoting street vending – by enacting the Street Vendors Act, aspects regarding planned development of cities and towns have been compromised,” a bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh observed while dealing with a batch of petitions on the issue.
The high court said the Act needed to be examined in light of “possible infringement of fundamental rights of the citizens who live in any city, or town, particularly, under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
The court was hearing petitions on squatting rights and setting up a town vending committee (TVC) in various places in the capital.
It also highlighted how the TVCs have a majority of representation from amongst the street vendors, their associations and NGOs formed for protecting their rights.
“The representation of the various authorities tasked with the task of local administration, including the municipal administration, police administration, public works department, etc, all put together is less than 50%. In a sense, the street vending committees, therefore, appear to be heavily loaded in favour of the street vendors,” the court noted, giving its prima facie view that “the scheme of the Street Vendors Act and the Rules framed thereunder greatly tilts the balance to encourage street vending.”
The court also observed that the overcrowding of any place shall not be a basis for declaring any area as a no-vending zone, and sanitary concerns shall not be the basis for declaring any area as a no-vending zone, unless, such concerns can be solely attributed to street vendors and cannot be resolved through appropriate civic action by the local authority.
It decided to examine the issue closely and clubbed earlier petitions challenging the Street Vendors Act to the current plea.