Street vendors have fundamental right but can’t impinge upon others’ rights: Del HC

New Delhi, Oct 29 (PTI) No right is absolute and it needs to be balanced with others’ rights, the Delhi High Court observed Saturday, saying street vendors do have a fundamental right but when they use a public way, they impinge on someone else’s right to walk.

Hearing a batch of petitions on the Street Vendors Act, 2014, a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said hawkers should get proper places to sit and proper kiosks in every market.

“They should have a proper licence. Then you don’t have to pay ‘hafta’ to the police,” the court said.

The court asked what was the “bottleneck” in the implementation of the Act. “What is the hesitation for the last seven years?”

The bench said the authorities should come out with the Street Vending plan taking into consideration aspects like safety, security, hygiene, roads etc.

The authorities need to have a plan every five years but “unfortunately, there is no plan for now”, it said.

“People who have been squatting should be required to disclose their assets and income. Those selling on streets have fundamental rights but no right is absolute. Even if he is an old squatter, he should give way so that the old site is allotted fairly. When you want to use a public way or a street, you are impinging on somebody else’s right to walk.

“It cannot be like no one can touch you. There has to be some application of mind that what can be allowed. You have to see the density of the area, how many vends can be allowed,” the bench said.

The court commenced hearing arguments on a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the Street Vendors Act, its implementation, certain provisions of 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.

Senior advocate Sanjeev Ralli, appearing for New Delhi Traders Association, which represents shop owners and operators in the Connaught Place (CP) area, explained to the bench previous judgements on the issue and how the things have proceeded before the courts.

Ralli, along with advocate Mohit Mudgal, while referring to a previous judgment, said no hawker can defeat the rights of other citizens.

When some of the counsel tried to intervene and make submissions, the court said, “We want to first see what judgments were delivered, then in that context we want to see how the Street Vendors Act came about. We do not want to lose our focus.”

“This is a dynamic situation. What we are looking at is the Act which came in 2014 and its implementation… There are more and more areas. There may be more people who may be allowed to vend. So we will have to see the Act and the scheme but firstly, the street vending plan has to come, it said, adding that, “We are not coloured by any picture or paint.”

The bench remarked, “Can it be said that just because the Act is not being implemented properly so the vendors will sit wherever they want. We want proper implementation of the Act so that the problems of vendors end. They should get proper places to sit, proper kiosks in every market.”

The court heard the arguments advanced by Ralli and listed the matter for further hearing on November 18.