Pavements and the law: India

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Pavements are not for hawkers: Delhi High Court

The Times of India

Abhinav Garg, December 19, 2014

Footpaths are meant for pedestrians, not for providing livelihood to hawkers and setting up of shops or kiosks, the Delhi high court observed on Thursday while stating that rights of pedestrians must be “zealously protected.“ A bench of Justices Kailash Gambhir and Najmi Waziri also ordered New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to carry out a survey within a week to identify pavements and footpaths that have been encroached upon by hawkers so they can be removed. “By definition, footpaths are meant for pedestrians and the latter have the first right over these. The rights of pedestrians can't be compromised in the name of providing livelihood to hawkers in metropolises,“ the bench noted.

The high court expressed shock that NDMC had failed to comply with an earlier or der to conduct a survey on encroachments.

The court was hearing a plea by one Suman Lata who had sought directions to NDMC to renew her lease for running a pan stall. The civic agency had found the premises were being misused because hazardous material like gas cylinders were being stored improperly and the stall was encroaching on public land. Dismissing the plea, the single judge had directed NDMC to carry out a survey and file an action taken report in 12 weeks. The deadline fixed by the court ended last week. On its part, NDMC informed the bench that surveys are being carried out on various roads and it has so far examined 257 sites.

However, the division bench was not satisfied, and termed the current state of affairs as “horrifying“ since occupants of kiosks carried out various activities “beyond their allocated spaces and blocked spaces meant for pedestrians.“

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