Thursday, May 2, 2024

Chief Justice led bench dismisses PIL seeking implementation of Street Vendor (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act

On May 1, 2024, the division bench of Chief Justice K. Vinod Chandran and Justice Harish Kumar dismissed a writ petition praying for implementation the Street Vendor (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 as "unnecessary petition". It was filed filed by Qamre Alam and Md. Qayum Uddin.

The judgement in Qamre Alam v. State of Bihar drew on the counter affidavit which provided details of the steps being taken by the Patna Municipal Corporation for implementation of the Street Vending Act. 

The judgement recalled an earlier petition filed by the very same writ petitioners numbered as CWJC No. 17256 of 2019 (Patna Junction Thela Footpath Dukandar Sangh v. State of Bihar) which was disposed of, granting liberty to the petitioners to assist the Court in another writ petition pending on the same subject matter numbered as CWJC No. 15475 of 2016 (Vikash Chandra Guddu Baba Vs. the State of Bihar). The perusal of the judgement in  the former case which provides the names of 119 petitioners does not show the name of Qamre Alam and Md. Qayum Uddin.  

The judgement of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S. Kumar bench records that "Patna Junction Street Vendors Association themselves have filed CWJC No. 17976 of 2019, for the same subject matter. There is hence no requirement for a public spirited person to agitate the cause." The fact is that this case was disposed of without expressing "any opinion on the merits of the matter" on November 23, 2020.

The petitioners had prayed for the following relief(s):-
(i) For issuance of writ of mandamus commanding upon the respondents to implement the prevision of street vendors (Protection of livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Act 2014 and after survey the town vending committee shall ensure that all existing street Vendors identified in the survey are accommodated in the Vending Zone (which is not declared till date) in accordance with the plan for Street Vending and the holding capacity of the Vending Zone.
(ii) For issuance of writ of mandamus commanding upon the respondents not to disturb/remove the from existing place of business Street Vendors from existing place of business in the name of Anti encroachment Drives as they are earning their livelihood for themselves and also for their family members. Since last several years as despite several insurance given by the respondents, no Street Vending Zone has been specific and they have been removed one place to another place in the name of the Anti encroachment drive.
(iii) For issuance of writ of Mandamus to Specific the Vending Zone for the Street Vendors.
(iv) For issuance of writ of mandamus commanding upon the respondents to ensure that all the Street Vendors who are earning their livelihood from place situated near the Patna Junction adjacent to Veena Picture Hall, Patna are accommodated in the Vending Zone after specifying the place of Vending Zone.
(v) For the direction to the respondents not to disturb the Street Venders who are earning their livelihood from the place at Patna Junction near Veena Picture Hall, Patna prior to fixing the place as Vendor Zone and accommodating them in the said Vendor Zone.
(vi) For the other reliefs in facts & circumstances of the case.”

The petition was disposed of in the following terms:-
(a) Petitioners’ representation, which is pending before the appropriate authority, shall be considered and decided in accordance with law within a period of four weeks from today;
(b) Liberty is reserved to the petitioner to take recourse to such remedy, pursuant to the decision taken on such representation, including approaching this Court afresh on same and subsequent cause of action, if so required and desired;
(c) We have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the matter. 

With regard to the latter case CWJC No.15475 of 2016 (Vikash Chandra Guddu Baba Vs. the State of Bihar), the judgement of the bench of Chief Justice Vinod Chandran and Justice Partha Sarthy dated September 22, 2023 makes it crystal clear that the writ petition was closed with certain observations. The observation reads: "The writ petition has been pending since 2016 and it is submitted by the petitioner in person that on the basis of orders passed by this court many of the encroachments have been removed." It recorded that Prabhat Kumar Verma, the AAG-3 informed the Court that "the State and the District Administration are relentlessly pursuing the matter and ensuring that no difficulty is caused to the public. We hope that the State does not let up on the removal of such encroachments wherever it is found and also ensure that there is no further occupation of public place by trespassers."

Notably, on October 4, 2017, the bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Anil Kumar Upadhyay had passed an order in Vikash Chandra Guddu Baba v. State of Bihar wherein it recorded that "the Patna Municipal Corporation in C.W.J.C. No. 2442 of 2017 has made statement on oath before this Court that they are proposing to create vending zones in the entire city of Patna and thereafter remove the encroachers to the said zone, list the matter for analogous hearing along with C.W.J.C. No. 2442 of 2017 and C.W.J.C. No. 3923 of 2016. Meanwhile, further action taken should be indicated to this Court and a report filed." C.W.J.C. No. 2442 of 2017 refers to Krishna Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar which was dismissed on April 21, 2023. The dismissal order reads:"Though it is submitted that Advocate Satya Prakash has expired, Vakalanama is also seen to be filed by Advocate Mr. Sachin Kumar. Consistently, none appears for the petitioner. As such, writ petition stands dismissed for default" after listing/hearing it on 30 occasions.  

The latter case C.W.J.C. No. 3923 of 2016 refers to Zila Footpath Dukandar Sangh, Muzaffarpur v. State of Bihar, which was disposed by the bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justices Dinesh Kumar Singh on November 15, 2019. The recorded that Yogesh Chandra Verma, senior counsel stated that "out of 142, only 58 vendors have been issued identity cards and the rights of the remaining vendors remain denied." 

The Court's judgement reads: "Having considered the material placed on record in its entirety, we are of the considered view that interest of justice will be best met if each one of the remaining vendors were to approach the authority for redressal of their surviving grievances, including non-implementation or incomplete implementation of the provision of Sections-3 and 4 of The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood And Regulation Of Street Vending) Act, 2014." It observed: "We are sure that on receipt of such request, cases of each one of the remaining vendors shall be considered by the appropriate authority in accordance with law expeditiously and preferably within a period of 3 months from today. Mr. Prasoon Sinha, appearing for the respondent Municipal Corporation, ensures of the same. In view of the aforesaid directions, we dispose of the present petition reserving liberty to the remaining vendors to seek appropriate remedies in accordance with law, including approaching this Court by way of separate petitions" after listing/hearing the case on 33 occasions.



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