Street vendors have a fundamental right to vend, but with restrictions, says Delhi HC

New Delhi, Jan 7 (PTI) Street vendors who are a societal necessity have a fundamental right to vend or hawk but it comes with certain restrictions and it has to be balanced with others’ rights, the Delhi High Court on Friday said.
The high court said a large section of society depends on hawkers to buy fruits, vegetables, clothes and other household items but this does not mean that they can be allowed to affect the rights of others and that the city cannot be held ransom.

“Every fundamental right comes with certain restrictions. Vendors have a fundamental right to vend but it has to be balanced with others’ rights. The issue is where is the fulcrum, where is the balance. Vendors are a necessity in society. We also go and buy vegetables from them”, a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said.

The court’s observation came while hearing the Centre’s submission on a batch of pleas challenging the validity of the Street Vendors Act, its implementation, certain provisions of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Scheme, 2019 and other connected issues raised by various market associations and vendors and hawkers.

The Centre opposed the pleas by various market associations challenging the vires of the Street Vendors Act, and said the petitions were clearly misconceived and deserve to be rejected.

The present petition having been filed by various associations of traders and shopkeepers on the principal ground of violation of their rights and entitlements under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution would otherwise be not maintainable in terms of the admitted settled legal position in this regard, the Centre’s counsel submitted.

He further said the Street Vendors Act is a welfare legislation aimed at enabling the meaningful exercise of the fundamental right to vend or hawk as well as regulating it, and the enactment has been enacted by Parliament which is possessed with requisite legislative competence to do so.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on January 17.

Senior advocate Sanjeev Ralli and lawyer Mohit Mudgal, appearing for New Delhi Traders Association, which represents shop owners and operators in the Connaught Place area, had earlier said no hawker can defeat the rights of other citizens who also have fundamental rights.