You Can’t Decide What People Should Eat Because The Party In Power Says So. Gujarat High Court Thrashes Out At BJP Ruled Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation - Vibes Of India

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You Can’t Decide What People Should Eat Because The Party In Power Says So. Gujarat High Court Thrashes Out At BJP Ruled Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation

| Updated: December 9, 2021 20:57

“How can you decide what people should eat? Suddenly because someone in power thinks that this is what they want to do? Tomorrow you will decide what I should eat outside my house?” These were the strong words of Justice Biren Vaishnav of the Gujarat High Court, hearing a petition by street vendors selling eggs and non-veg food in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

“Tomorrow they will tell me that I should not consume sugarcane juice because it might cause diabetes or that coffee is bad for my health,” the judge asserted, in a petition challenging the AMC’s action last month against street vendors selling non-veg food.

Not only Ahmedabad, municipal corporations of Vadodara, Rajkot, Junagadh and Bhavnagar had also issued oral directives to the staff to remove stalls and kiosks selling non-veg food. However, though the BJP’s campaign fell flat on its face; it did create a fear amongst egg and non vegetarian seller in Ahmedabad.

The ruling BJP had in these respective civic bodies first justified the action, stating that these street side stalls hurt the sentiments of the Hindus and that the smell could be a health hazard. They had subsequently tweaked it to say it was a drive against encroachments causing traffic snarls.     

Justice Vaishnav on Thursday asserted, “You don’t like non-veg food, it is your lookout. How can you decide what people should eat outside? How can you stop people from eating what they want?” 

When the AMC claimed that the action was not targeted at non-veg stalls but those encroaching the streets and creating traffic snarls, Justice Vaishnav retorted, “Let us be very honest. Around the Vastrapur Lake, there were hawkers selling eggs and omelets, overnight you decide because the party in power says that you don’t want to sell eggs; will you pick them up and take them away?”

The judge went on, “Ask your Corporation Commissioner to be present! How do you dare indiscriminately pick up people?”

The high court was hearing a petition filed by 20 street vendors of Ahmedabad arguing that they could not be summarily uprooted without providing them alternatives as envisaged in the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014.

The petitioners, through their advocate Ronith Joy, pointed out that the 2014 law had just not been implemented in Gujarat. This legislation, among other things, envisages the constitution of a 19-member Town Vending Committee by all municipal corporations with adequate representation of the vendors. This committee is required to conduct a survey and identify hawking and no-hawking zones. Ahmedabad has more than 1.25 lakh street vendors. 

The petitioners include those who run egg eateries, non-veg food stalls as well as fruits and vegetable sellers.

Besides challenging the AMC’s action, the petitioners have also challenged the “deplorable, illegal, and unjust action” of the AMC and the State Government “in seizing the laaris/carts and other ancillary equipment/apparatus of the Petitioners coupled with the raw materials used to prepare food/snacks for consumption without following due process.”

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