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Hawkers make hay while officials attend court
August, 05th 2011

If you were wondering why it is difficult to reach a BMC official to complain about illegal hawking, here's their excuse for keeping their mobiles switched off-they are in court.

Civic officials from the ward offices of BMC's licence and encroachment removal department claim that they are in court all day, attending cases filed by hawkers seeking a stay on the demolition of their stalls. However, this is in direct violation of a November 2009 Supreme Court order, stating that no lower court is empowered to entertain cases concerning the hawker issue.

Residents from the western suburbs on Wednesday informed Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner , that many hawking cases have been admitted and filed in the lower courts. They also alleged that the officials were using this excuse to shirk work instead of bringing the SC order to the attention of the judge.

Dr Rustom Soonawalla, member, Citispace, said, "We find that civic officials are in the lower courts, when they are not supposed to hear hawkerrelated cases, as per the SC order of 2009. All that the BMC needs to do is submit an affidavit in all the lower courts annexing the SC judgment. Instead , these officials get a good alibi to sit in court all day."
Nayana Kathpalia, who is the convenor of Citispace, said, "Individual judges keep changing in lower courts. It becomes the duty of the BMC to inform the judges of this order."

It was suggested that a circular be issued to all 24 administrative wards, stating the order and its translation so officials concerned cannot feign ignorance. "If for some reason the official has to be present in court, he should ensure that a replacement is present," said Soonawalla.

Chandrashekhar Rokade, deputy municipal commissioner, removal of encroachments, said, "We will study the legal documents and then decide on issuing the circular informing them about the SC order of 2009."

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