9 Dec 2021 7:26 AM GMT
Dealing with a plea filed by street vendors who have been prohibited from selling non-vegetarian food on the streets of Ahmedabad, the Gujarat High Court today rapped the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and observed how could people be prevented from eating what they want to eat."You don't like non-veg food, it is your lookout. How can you decide what people should eat outside? How can...
Dealing with a plea filed by street vendors who have been prohibited from selling non-vegetarian food on the streets of Ahmedabad, the Gujarat High Court today rapped the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and observed how could people be prevented from eating what they want to eat.
"You don't like non-veg food, it is your lookout. How can you decide what people should eat outside? How can you stop people from eating what they want?", asked the Bench of Justice Biren Vaishnav.
Asking the Municipal Corporation Commissioner to be present before the Court, the Bench orally remarked thus:
"How can you decide what people should eat? Suddenly because someone in power thinks that this is what they want to do? Tomorrow you will decide what I should eat outside my house? Tomorrow they will tell me that I should not consume sugarcane juice because it might cause diabetes or that coffee is bad for my health."
[Case related to Ban on carts/stalls selling non-veg food]Justice Biren Vaishnav (to Govt pleader): You don't like non-veg food, it is your lookout. How can you decide what people should eat outside?How can you stop people from eating what they want?#GujaratHighCourt pic.twitter.com/P0CBnOmpRN— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) December 9, 2021
The matter before the Court
Essentially, the bench was dealing with a plea filed by 20 street vendors of Ahmedabad challenging the non-implementation of the Street Vendors [Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending] Act, 2014 and the rules framed thereunder despite the fact that there has been a substantial passage of time since the coming into force of the Act and the accompanying rules.
It may be noted that a bulk of the Petitioners before the Court are those persons who run egg stalls/carts and earn a living by cooking eggs and serving the same to their clients. However, some of the Petitioners are those persons who sell fruits and vegetables and earn a living.
Hence, the Petitioners form a mixed basket where certain persons sell cooked products, certain persons sell raw fruits and vegetables and some others sell cooked non-vegetarian food comprising of poultry, seafood, etc.
Further, the Petitioners have also challenged the deplorable, illegal, and unjust action of the Respondents [AMC, State of Gujarat] in seizing the laaris/carts and other ancillary equipment/apparatus of the Petitioners coupled with the raw materials used to prepare food/snacks for consumption without following due process.
On the other hand, the AMC has claimed that the drive was undertaken in view of the fact that selling non-vegetarian food on the streets creates a health hazard as it is unhygienic and also harmful to the environment
The Petitioners have submitted before the Court that the inhuman act of the Respondents of leaving the Petitioners high and dry is discriminatory, arbitrary, and perverse and violates their right to earn a livelihood as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
"Non-vegetarian food is being prepared and sold within the State of Gujarat for centuries. There is no embargo to sell eggs or other nonvegetarian food items either in the Constitution or any other law enacted by Parliament. Under what authority or power are the Respondents preventing the Petitioners and persons alike from vending is something that is not available in public domain. This is nothing but bigotry to say the least," the plea filed through Advocate Ronith Joy avers.
The petitioners have also submitted that the authorities ransacked/vandalized the premises where the persons like the Petitioners have been vending and have mercilessly and in the most inhuman manner impounded/seized the equipment and carts required for vending leaving the Petitioners traumatized.
"That the act of the Respondents in preventing/prohibiting the Petitioners and other persons alike from vending/hawking or selling food items without any rhyme or reason whatsoever is absolutely contrary to the scheme of the Street Vendors Act of 2014 and the accompanying rules and has taken place as a result of total non-application of mind," the plea claims.
The plea also avers that as long as a person doesn't impinge/violate the right of another or violate the law of the land, he/she must be free to produce/sell anything that he/she wants as such right has been afforded by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Lastly, the plea inter alia prays that Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation be directed to not oust any hawker/vendor/seller from the streets and not to impound any cart/laari/equipment/apparatus of the street vendors without complying with the provisions of the Street Vendors [Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending] Act, 2014 and the rules framed thereunder.