Why Clear Streets and Footpaths for PM and VVIPs but Not for Everyone?: Bombay HC

Bombay HC

The Bombay High Court on Monday emphasized that providing clear streets and footpaths should be a daily obligation for state authorities, not just a temporary measure during visits by the prime minister and other VVIPs.

A bench of Justices M S Sonak and Kamal Khata asserted that every citizen’s fundamental right includes having safe pathways to walk on.

The court, which had taken suo motu cognizance last year of the issue of illegal hawkers and vendors occupying city footpaths, criticized the state’s passive approach to the problem. It urged for immediate and substantial action, stating that mere contemplation without effective measures was inadequate.

“When high-profile individuals visit, streets and footpaths are swiftly cleared and maintained until their departure. Why can’t this standard be upheld for all citizens? Taxpayers deserve clear footpaths and safe walking areas,” remarked the bench.

Highlighting the severity of the issue, the court expressed concern over the authorities’ prolonged indecision and lack of proactive steps. It emphasized the necessity for determination and initiative, quoting the proverb ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way.’

Appearing for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Senior counsel S U Kamdar informed the court about periodic actions against illegal vendors, though admitting their persistent return. He mentioned the BMC’s consideration of underground markets as a potential solution, prompting a witty response from the bench about ‘burying’ the problem.

The court also criticized the ineffectiveness of fines imposed on vendors, which they easily pay due to high daily earnings. It suggested the BMC develop a comprehensive database to monitor and prevent repeat offenses by identified hawkers.

The hearing concluded with the court scheduling the next session for July 22 to further address the matter.

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