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Petition on food sale without licence: Bombay HC seeks explanation on BMC’s approach to hawkers



The Bombay High Court Monday directed the municipal commissioner or the assistant municipal commissioner to explain their approach towards hawkers selling food across the city. A petition by the Indian Hotel and Restaurants Association (IHRA) in 2016 had stated that while hotels and restaurant owners need to obtain licences and permissions from various departments of the municipal corporation — heath department, fire brigade and environment department – hawkers on footpaths, public places, roads, gardens or playgrounds prepare food and sell it without any licence and without following rules. The IHRA alleged they cook food without licence and without permission of the municipal corporation.

The food is unhygienic and harmful to health and safety of the general public. The petition says it continues despite court orders. The petition says that hawkers use cooking gas cylinders and electricity unlawfully. Pursuant to an order of the High Court, Neela Patange, Deputy Superintendent of Licence, filed an affidavit Monday stating that the petitioners had not made suppliers of gas cylinders and electricity as parties in the case. The grievance should have been redressed by the company supplying cooking gas to hawkers, said the petition.

A division Bench of AS Oka and RI Chagla said even after the court called these hawkars illegal, no action was taken by BMC officials. The court further said, “It is a complete violation of (rules for) cooking food.” The court pulled up BMC officials and said, “Instead of taking action, you have written to Hindustan Uniliver Limited (the gas cylinder supplier),” The court said it was the duty of BMC officials to go to the spot and inspect, instead of blaming the gas cylinder supplier. The court said, “We direct the municipal commissioner or the assistant commissioner personally to explain the approach of the Mumbai municipal corporation.”

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