Notice to Civic Bodies on Ban on Selling Food in the Open

The Delhi High Court has issued an advisory to the city’s municipal agencies, which need help fighting to stop notifications preventing vendors from selling food items and drinks exposed to dust to reduce infections that can spread during the summer. The notice was released on July 16, 2014.A division bench comprised of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sidharth Mridul have asked the civic organizations to respond before August 5. The court rejected the notices sent out on the 20th and the 24th of March. The court explained its position and stated, “We have issued a notice to civic agencies, but we are not putting a stay on the notifications as the petitioner has come after four months since the stay first came into place.”

The lawsuit in the public interest (PIL) was brought through the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) through advocate Prashant Bhushan. The PIL asked the court to halt public announcements from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) that prohibited the selling and preparation of cut fruits and sugarcane juice. Threatened by the emergence of a dangerous disease and a possible outbreak of any unsafe condition, the MCD banned the practice and sale of any food item that was exposed to dust and flies. Appearing as a street vendor, Advocate Ramesh Mishra told the court that the orders were made according to the moods and desires of commissioners. He further stated that Delhi is a common site for cholera, but there was no outbreak. He also said, “The notifications prohibiting the sale of any food or drinks subject to flies or dust were arbitrary and vague. “It provides unrestricted authority to municipal authorities to slap the street vendors. The notices don’t provide any guidelines for the hygienic selling and preparation items for street sellers, a violation of which could be illegal under the impugned rules,” stated Ramesh Mishra. The complaint says that as street vendors generally operate in open areas, street vendors serving or making food or drink are now liable to punishment and harassment by municipal officials. There is no evidence to suggest that the drinks and food items mentioned in the notices to the public cause cholera. Before making any restriction, the food item’s sample food products should be sent to research and thoroughly examined to establish that the food item has bacteria responsible for the spread of cholera. The petition also pointed out that municipal bodies did not mention any research or survey undertaken in the notices.

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