Delhi High Court has rejected a plea seeking directions to be given to Railways to issue vending passes to the Train Side Vendors, after the advent of e-catering scheme.
While rejecting the relief sought by the Petitioners, the Single Bench of Justice Jayant Nath went on to hold that policy matters of the State are not to be disturbed unless they are found to be grossly arbitrary or irrational.
The present petition was filed to issue free Railway Passes to the vendors of the petitioner licensee for the purpose of Train Side Vending.
Train Side Vendors were issued periodical licences to carry out their business until the circular issued on 16.09.2015 regarding "station based E-catering". After that issuance of that circular, vending cards were not issued to the Petitioners despite depositing the train side vending fee.
By court's order, when a representation was made by the vendors before the Chief Commercial Manager of Northern Railways, he decided the representation by observing that:
'that earlier train side vending was allowed by the Railway administration under specific scheme to the static catering licensees for serving passengers. However, now E-catering scheme has been introduced which gives an option to the passengers of ordering food of their choice at the station enroute to their destination. Since the need of passengers is met through E-catering system, train side vending scheme and the issuance of passes for the same were not considered necessary.'
Petitioners challenged the aforementioned stance of the railways as arbitrary and unreasonably by stating that due to the absence of train side vending there is a lot of unauthorized vending in operation which is unhygienic and harmful to the passengers. It is further sought to be urged that large number of passengers are not equipped to place the orders through the e-catering system and hence grave inconvenience is caused to such passengers.
The court rejected the claim of the Petitioners by noting that they did not show any cogent grounds for calling the e-catering policy to be arbitrary or unreasonable.
The court went on to hold that the Petitioners could not show that the current policy violates an earlier circular, as the earlier circular clearly mentioned that where it is not possible to provide train side vending through departmentally managed static unit it is only then that catering licenses would provide for train side vending and passes may be issued to their staff.
Therefore, the court noted that an alternate arrangement has been decided and attempts are being made to introduce professionally experienced caterers for the benefit of the passengers. It would be within the rights of the Railways to change its policy and to disallow the petitioners to carry out train side vending.
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