Nagpur: Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Monday granted a status quo on Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s (NMC) move to earmark hawkers’ zone on Sitabuldi main road and banning entry of four-wheelers there. The move by corporation’s town vending committee (TVC) was challenged by the Sitabuldi Merchants Association. The court issued notices to Maharashtra government and others asking them to file a reply in three weeks, according to NMC’s counsel Gemini Kasat. The Association had decided to oppose the civic body’s move by deciding not to pay any taxes until it revoked the decision.
The petition argued TVC had no legal backing and its composition was patently illegal. They pointed out the TVC was constituted as per Supreme Court’s orders in 2014 and it’s validity was only till an Act was enacted in the Parliament. Subsequently, the Centre cleared the Act last year in June but TVC’s composition was not changed.
Kasat contended the apex court had recommended constitution of TVC with 30 members initially. After the Parliament cleared the enactment, it was reconstituted to 20 members, where hawkers would have 40% representation. Moreover, the selection of hawkers was to be made by the labour commissioner after undergoing proper election process. However, Maharashtra government failed to constitute new TVC as per Act and therefore, NMC carried on with the old panel. Kasat said the NMC was implementing decisions taken by the old panel, as new panel was yet to be constituted by the state.
The petitioner pointed out that earlier NMC had declared the Sitabuldi road as no-hawking zone citing chaos and severe traffic congestion as reasons for not allowing hawking. However, TVC declared the same stretch as hawking zone in a sudden U-turn. They claimed that Sitabuldi Residents Association (SRA) had also joined them in opposing the NMC decision.