The Bombay high court has directed licensed hawkers in Bhandup who refused to vacate their pitches and move into the municipal market to decide whether they are willing to move voluntarily. The hawkers were asked by the BMC to shift as they were not only in close proximity of a religious place and school but also within the buffer zone of a railway station. However, they refused to move and approached the court seeking a stay on the BMC eviction notice.
A division bench of justices S C Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel while hearing the petition filed by numerous hawkers through senior advocate M P Vashi was informed that the BMC had issued them eviction notices though they were eligible to hawk their wares at the spot. Vashi further submitted that the BMC had selectively targeted the petitioners who occupied just 18 sq feet of space while vendors outside the religious place and school who occupied a much larger area were spared.
However, the BMC through senior advocate Anil Sakhare informed the court that the hawkers were occupying the footpath and this was causing inconvenience to pedestrians. He further submitted that the road on which the hawkers were plying their business was an arterial road which went upto the Bhandup Railway station. As pedestrians were forced to walk on the road, it was causing inconvenience to vehicular traffic as well. Hence to address the problem BMC had decided to relocate the hawkers to the municipal market but they were reluctant to move.
In an affidavit filed last week the BMC submitted that it was offering 36 sq feet of space to the hawkers in the municipal market. It also said that the objection of the petitioners about vendors outside the school and religious place was not valid as they were proper shops paying property tax and were not on doing their business on the footpath.
After hearing all sides the bench asked the petitioners whether they were willing to comply and move to the municipal market or face the consequences after BMC initiated eviction proceedings. The bench also directed Vashi to explain about the downside of pursuing the petition and not taking up the offer from BMC as they would forfeit the space in the market and asked them to reply on their decision.