Supreme Court Hauls Up Governments on the Issue of Pavements
-Shraddha Chaudhary, III Year, B.A., LL.B. (Hons.)
On September 5th, 2014, a three judge bench of the High Court, including Chief Justice Lodha himself, hauled up the Central and state government on when pavements would be made encroachment free. This was a matter based on a PIL filed by the NGO ‘Voice of India’.
The Supreme Court has asked all governments to file affidavits marking the progress on the implementation of the national policy on urban street vendors and hawkers, and more importantly, on the recently enacted Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act 2014. According to both these measures, the government is expected to set up restriction free zones or bazars for these vendors to set up their shop without obstructing the pavements and encroaching on public spaces meant for other uses.
It was highlighted, in the order, that encroachments such as these are necessitated by the neglect of the government and tend to cause very serious inconvenience to the normal citizens of urban centres who are forced to spill onto the road. This creates safety hazards and also causes long traffic jams and congestions. Further, the judges also noted the perverse incentives that motivate civic authorities into perpetuating these illegal encroachments for a cut in their profits, or alternatively, by threatening and abusing them.
The judgement order very succinctly highlighted that the law enacted earlier this year was meant to counter these very ills, but the inaction an apathy, as well as the greed to some extent, on the part of government officials including members of municipal councils, state governments and the police department have reduced the law to a mere paper tiger.
It is hoped that the strict approach of the court on this matter will spur the government into some form of action, thereby providing relief to the ordinary public.
 TNN, Supreme Court to Government: When will Pavements be Encroachment Free?, The Times of India (September 6th, 2014), available at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/SC-to-govt-When-will-pavements-and-roads-be-encroachment-free/articleshow/41824627.cms.
 TNN, Centre, States to Reply on PIL for Right of Way, The Times of India (September 6th, 2014), available at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Delhi/Centre-states-to-reply-on-PIL-for-right-of-way/articleshow/41813552.cms.
 Express News Service, Encroachment of Footpaths: Centre, States get Supreme Court Notices, The Indian Express (September 6th, 2014), available at http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/encroachment-of-footpath-centre-states-get-sc-notices/.