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Bombay: HC directs state, BMC to consider hawkers’ plea seeking license fees, penalties waiver for lockdown period

The plea sought directions to the state government and BMC to waive off or adjust the license fees and penalties. Additional Government Pleader Abhay Patki, for the state government, opposed the plea saying it was not maintainable.




THE BOMBAY High Court on Friday directed the state government and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to consider and decide within one month an application made by a hawkers’ association seeking a waiver on or adjustment of license fees and the subsequent penalty for non-payment charged by authorities since the lockdown came into effect in March this year.

A division bench of Justice A A Sayed and Nitin R Borkar heard, through video-conference, a public interest litigation (PIL) by Rizwan Nisar Ahmed Khan, a sugarcane juice vendor, through advocate Mayur Faria, challenging the decision to levy license fees and penalties over Rs 100 crore despite the businesses remaining closed due to lockdown restrictions.

“Thousands of hawkers were charged fees for more than five months without allowing them to function and, therefore, the directions should be passed in a larger public interest,” the plea stated.

Most hawkers belong to the economically weaker section (EWS) and levying penalty on them would be arbitrary and misuse of power by the authorities, the plea stated. Levying license fees and penalties will be unjust, as they have not only lost their businesses but have incurred expenses during the lockdown that put a burden on them in the trying times, Faria said.

The plea sought directions to the state government and BMC to waive off or adjust the license fees and penalties. Additional Government Pleader Abhay Patki, for the state government, opposed the plea saying it was not maintainable.

Disposing of the PIL, the bench allowed the petitioner to make a representation by himself or through hawkers’ association to the BMC within two weeks and directed the civic body to consider and decide it within four weeks thereafter.

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