Hawkers Cannot be Allowed to Occupy Footpaths: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court has made a stern remark regarding unauthorized hawkers on Mumbai’s footpaths and public roads, stating that they cannot be allowed to occupy these spaces permanently. Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal, presiding over the matter, suggested that the BMC consider the concept of pop-up markets or mobile vending to address the issue.

In their order dated April 16, the bench emphasized that a person’s constitutional right cannot infringe upon the rights of pedestrians to free and safe passage on footpaths. The court had taken suo motu cognizance of the issue of illegal vendors in the city last year, raising fundamental questions about the intended beneficiaries of urban spaces, which are contested by various stakeholders.

The Unjust Claim of Permanency on Streets

The High Court highlighted the improbability of unlicensed street vendors claiming permanency on public roads, which would affect the constitutional rights of pedestrians and other tax-paying citizens. “We do not see how the right under Article 19 (the right to practice any profession) can transform into a right over land at the expense of other users of that public space,” the court stated. The bench reiterated that the right to livelihood can always be regulated according to law.

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