On the 11th of April 2022, the Supreme Court of India dismissed an SLP
arising out of a Writ Petition of Mandamus filed by a hawker of Sarojni Nagar
Market, named Madan Lal, in the Delhi High Court, which was dismissed by the
bench comprising of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh. The petitioner
prayed to the High Court that he be permitted to keep his goods and wares at the
place where he is hawking overnight, and the NDMC be directed to permit the
The High Court reasoned that the prayer of the petitioner goes against the
concept of hawking. It explained the concept of hawking as one being where the
hawker comes to the allotted area during the hours of hawking with his or her
goods and wares; undertakes the activity of hawking and leaves the area along
with his or her goods and wares at the end of the hawking period.
The High Court further observed that as per the order passed in W.P.(C)
9929/2021 by the same court, where it was observed that the Delhi Police shall
seize all such articles and goods which are found lying in the Market area on a
daily basis with the assistance of the officers of the NDMC.
The Apex Court, while dismissing the SLP observed that the hawker has to follow
the Hawking Policy and they cannot be allowed to do anything in contravention of
it. The policy that the Supreme Court mentioned is the National Policy on
Urban Street Vendors
. The said policy highlights the ruling of the Supreme
Court where it said that if properly regulated, according to the exigency of the
circumstances, the small traders on the sidewalks can considerably add to the
comfort and convenience of the general public, by making available ordinary
articles of everyday use for a comparatively lesser price. The same policy
talks about the valuable services provided by the hawkers to the urban
population and also about Article 19(1)(g) and Articles 39(a) & (b).
A street vendor or hawker is defined as a person who offers goods or services
for sale to the public without having a permanent built-up structure in a
street. Three types of vendors are defined in the policy. First, those vendors
who carry out vending on a regular basis with a specific location, and, second,
those vendors who carry out vending not on a regular basis and without a
specific location, lastly the mobile vendors.
Regarding the goods and wares of the hawkers/vendors, the policy states that the
governments shall amend section 283 of the IPC and section 34 of the Police Act,
so as to regularize the hawking as well as to maintain and control any
obstruction caused by the practice of hawking to the general public. The policy
states that there should be a provision of imposing fines, with due notice for
clearing of space, and the hawkers/vendors should be warned/informed before
starting the clearing up process. In regard to the confiscated goods, the policy
provides the hawkers/vendors with the right to get their goods back within a
reasonable time on payment of a prescribed fee.
The object of the above-mentioned policy is to provide and promote a supportive
environment for earning livelihoods to the vast mass of urban street vendors
while ensuring that such activity does not lead to overcrowding and unsanitary
conditions in public spaces and streets. Other objects of the policy are to give
legal status to the vendors, creation of hawking zones, regularize the hawking
sector, promotion of organizations of hawkers, rehabilitation of child hawkers,
and lastly provision of social security to the hawkers.
In light of the decision of the Apex Court and the policy, the government, for
the welfare of hawkers, shall make some arrangements as to the storage of the
goods and wares of the hawkers, so as to facilitate a smooth process of hawking,
as most of the hawkers reside far away from their place of hawking and they have
to carry big and heavy bags of goods and wares. Therefore, a mechanism shall be
developed by the governments so that the hawkers can be relieved of carrying
heavy goods and wares twice every day, and at the same time, the storage of
their goods and wares doesn�t cause any obstruction to the general public.
- W.P.(C) 681/2022, Delhi High Court.
- National Policy on Urban Street Vendors.