New Page 7
Contribution of Vendors in
Annual Turnover (in Rs
Calculations based on: (a)
Delhi Master Plan figure for 1981, extrapolated for 1991; (b) Study
by Nidan in 1997; (c) T.S. Sanben and V.R. Rao, ‘The Urban
Informal Sector in India – A Study of Govindpuri’ (Delhi), Jaishankar
Memorial Centre, Fredrich Ebert Stiftung, New Delhi, 1993; (d)
Extrapolated from study conducted by the Tata Institute of Social
Sciences, Mumbai; (e) Hawker Sangram Committee, sample survey.
Average Earnings of Vendors
Average Daily Earning of
Each Vendor (in Rs)
Ministry of Labour (Government of
National Classification of
Occupation 1968 (431.10)
Hawker, peddler, street
vendor, pheriwala sell arti- cles of daily utility and general merchandise
such as vegetables, sweets, cloth, utensils and toys, on footpaths or by
going from door to door. Purchases goods from wholesale market according to
his needs and capital (money) available. Loads them in basket or on
pushcart, wheel barrow or tricycle and moves in selected areas to effect
sales. Announces loudly goods or articles on sale and their prices to
attract customers. Attends to customers and effects sale by measuring,
weighing or counting as necessary. May also display goods or articles of
sale on footpath and effect sales. May purchase goods in lot, in auction or
other sales. May prepare and sell his own products and may ope-rate means of
conveyance. May work on salary or commission basis or both.
The 50th round of NSSO
(1993-94) estimates the number of street vendors as proportion of population
Urban Area: street vendors
constitute 0.89% of population.
Rural Area: street vendors
constitute 0.27% of population.
Total number of street
vendors (1991) = 3.6 million.
Genesis of Municipal Laws
Shopping and marketing in the
traditional Indian sense have always been informal. Display of wares and
social interaction are the hallmark of Indian markets as compared to the
mechanized and sterilized concept of shopping in the modern market centres
and super market structures. From ancient times, hawking and vending have
been an integral part of Indian trade and commerce. However, as the British
started gaining administrative control over India, they began introducing
their own institutions and legal frameworks. For the hawkers, The Bombay
Provincial Municipal Corporation Act (1949) and its adaptations for various
Indian cities, The Bombay Police Act (1951) and its adaptations for various
Indian cities, The Indian Railways Act (1819) are some major legislations
which were formulated by the British and retained in essentially the same
form by the Indian government. Unfortunately these laws, based on
England’s experience in dealing with urban poor and migrants, were
designed to facilitate control over Indian people, regulate the economy to
suit their administrative skills and to enhance their sense of security.
The following sections from
Halsbury’s Laws of England show how the laws passed in India were almost
word for word based on English laws. Halsbury: Volume 16 Section 616.
Metropolitan councils are empowered to deal with persons who erect or place
any post, rail, fence, bar obstruction or impede the traffic for which it
was formed or laid out, or who place any temporary obstruction such as
goods, barrows, stalls etc in any street. Vol. 22 Section 185: A hawker is
required to take out annual excise licence and any person who hawks without
having or without immediately producing upon demand a current licence
granted to him is liable to fine and imprisonment.
Volume 31 Section 1016: Every
person who places hangs up or otherwise exposes to sale any goods, wares,
merchandise, matter, or thing whatsoever that the same project into or over
any footway, or beyond the line of any house, shop or building at which the
same are so exposed so as to obstruct or incommode the passage of any person
over or along the footway is liable to a penalty not exceeding 40 shilling
to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 14 days and may be arrested
by any constable witnessing the offences.
The Bombay Municipal
Corporation Act (1882)
Section 313: Except under and
in conformity with the terms and provisions of a licence granted by the
Commissioner in this behalf, no person shall hawk or expose for sale in any
public place or in any public street any article whatsoever whether it be
for human consumption or not.
Section 314 (b): The
Commissioner may without notice, cause to be removed any article whatsoever
hawked or exposed for sale in any public place or in any public street.
Section 229: No person shall,
except with the permission of the Commissioner under section 227 or 234,
erect or set up any wall, fence, rail, post, step, booth or other structure
whether fixed or movable and whether of a permanent or a temporary nature,
or any fixture in or upon or over any open channel, drain, well, or tank in
any street so as to form an obstruction to or an encroachment upon, or a
projection over, or to occupy any portion of such street, channel, drain,
well or tank.
(Source: Excerpts from Legal
Status of Hawkers in India by Usha Jumani and Bharati Joshi.)
Control and Punishment:
Most acts are aimed at controlling and punishing the street vendors. The
acts are archaic and fail to meet the challenges posed by the new situation
particularly relating to migration, unemployment, saturation of formal
sector and so on. The following examples illustrate how control and
punishment becomes all important while the objective was to regulate the
Patna – Section 527: The
municipal law in Patna does not allow for the setting up of stalls, display
of goods, or selling of articles by occupying public streets, without prior
permission of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The permission of the Chief
Executive Officer has to be in the form of licences, for a specific period
of time (not exceeding one year), with a specific fee, also not providing
for the construction of a permanent structure.
Police Act 34: The police
have the authority to punish any person causing obstruction, annoyance, or
inconvenience to passengers or residents. Exposing goods for sale comes
within this purview. A person found guilty of these charges can be convicted
and arrested without a warrant and a fine can also be imposed on him/her.
Calcutta – Under the
Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), the Municipal Commissioner has the
autho-rity to search and seize any basket containing goods for sale in a
park, or street. Such a person can be detained and the matter can be pursued
as per procedures of the law. Soon after the infamous Operation Sunshine,
during which 100,000 hawkers were evicted overnight, the state government
passed an act which makes any form of encroachment on the pavements,
especially street vending, a non-bailable offence and if convicted to carry
a sentence of three months rigorous imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs 250.
Bill No. 33 of 1977: The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (Second Amendment)
Bhubaneshwar – According to
the Orissa Municipa-lity Act 1950, it is imperative for a person to obtain
the permission of the municipality for the sale or exposition of goods,
failing which the Executive Officer may expel him/her.
Section 295: No person can
open a new private market unless he/she obtains a licence from the
municipa-lity to do so. The municipality also reserves the right to suspend
or cancel a licence if the prescribed conditions are not fulfilled.
Bangalore – Any
encroachment by people involving selling of goods and vending can be removed
by the police in order to maintain the uninterrupted flow of traffic. A
person causing this kind of a disruption is liable to make a payment for the
expenditure incurred in removing the encroachments. The municipal council is
obligated to maintain a separate and suitable place for vending vegetables.
However, there is no provision for a specific zone for hawkers and vendors.
Mumbai – The municipality
law in Mumbai does not provide for the erection of any structure or stall on
the streets which will obstruct the passage of the public, or impede the
working of a drain or open channel. It is imperative for a person to procure
a licence from the municipal commissioner to be able to hawk his/her wares
in any public place. Failure of compliance will lead to the removal of any
product being hawked on the streets, without prior notice.
Ahmedabad – The municipal
law in Gujarat prohibits the hawking of goods without a licence. The
Municipal Corporation is also empowered to remove any encroachments and
obstruction made on the streets. The Bombay Police Act 1950 empowers the
police to arrest hawkers for obstructing free flow of traffic under sections
102 and 107.
Supreme Court Orders:
Bombay Hawkers Union vs
Bombay Municipal Corporation 1985: In this case the Supreme Court suggested
that a scheme for regulating grant of licence to hawkers and creating
hawking and no-hawking zones be worked out for which certain directions were
given by the court.
(i) As far as possible
there should be one hawking zone for every two contiguous municipal wards in
greater Bombay. (ii) A no-hawking zone may be fixed by the Municipal
Commissioner in his discretion in consultation with the Bombay Municipal
Corporation. (iii) In areas other than no-hawking zone, licence
should be granted to hawkers to conduct their business on payment of the
prescribed fee. (iv) Hawking licence should not be refused in hawking
zones except for a good reason. (v) In future, before making any
alteration in the scheme, the Commissioner should take into confidence all
public interest including that of the hawkers, the Commissioner of Police
and representative associations of the public.
Sodhan Singh vs New Delhi
Municipal Committee: Article 19(1)(g) Hawkers trading on pavements –
fundamental right subject to reasonable restrictions under clause 19(6). MCD
has full authority to permit hawkers and squatters on pavements where they
consider it practical and convenient. Hawking may be prohibited near
hospitals or where security measures so demand.
(i) So far as right of
a hawker to transact business while going from place to place is concerned,
it has been admittedly recognized for a long period. Of course, it is
subject to proper regulation in the interest of general convenience of the
public. The public streets by their nomenclature and definition are meant
for the use of the general public: they are not laid to facilitate the
carrying on of private business. This is one side of the picture. On the
other hand, 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 general public by making available ordinary
articles of everyday use at a comparatively cheaper price. An ordinary
person, going home after a day’s work can pick up these articles without
going out of his way to find a regular market. The right to carry on trade
or business mentioned in Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, on street
pavements, if properly regulated cannot be denied on the ground that the
streets are meant exclusively for passing or repassing and for no other use.
Right to Trade: Article 19
(1) (g) gives the Indian citizen a fundamental right to practice any
profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. This right is
limited only by the right of the state, i.e., the Indian government, to
prescribe professional or technical qualifications for certain trades or
professions, and right of the state to create monopolies in certain trade,
business or industry in the interest of the general public. Otherwise a
citizen’s right to carry on a trade or profession of his choice is
Equality Before Law: Article
14 of the Constitution states that the state shall not deny to any person
equa-lity before the law or equal protection of the laws within the
territory of India.
Social Justice: The preamble
of the Indian Constitution states that India is a sovereign, socialist,
secular democratic republic, and shall secure to its citizens justice,
social, economic and political and equality of status and of opportunity.
Directive Principles: Article
38(1) directs the state to promote the welfare of the people by securing a
social order in which justice – social, economic and political, shall
inform all institutions of national life. The state is also directed by
Article 38(2) to ‘minimize the inequalities in income status, facilities
and opportunities.’ Article 39(a) directs the state to formulate policy to
ensure that citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate
means of livelihood. It further provides that ownership and control of
material resources of the community must be distributed to serve the common
good, and that the operation of the economic system must not result in the
concentration of wealth and means of production. Article 41 specifically
provides for ‘right to work’ within the limits of the economic capacity
of the state.