The purpose of a footpath is to ensure smooth passage of traffic and to make available a safe path for pedestrians and this purpose is defeated if a civic body permits stall owners to erect stalls right in the middle of a footpath, the Bombay High Court has said.
A division bench of Justices S B Shukre and M W Chandwani on February 1 directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to reconsider a decision taken by it last year permitting 11 stall owners to erect stalls on a footpath situated outside a hospital at Worli in central Mumbai. The court was hearing a petition filed by an NGO 'The Bombay Mothers and Children Welfare Society', which runs the Tilak Hospital, challenging the corporation's decision.
The petitioner's advocate Satish Borulkar had argued that there was a prohibition of hawking within 100 metres of hospitals, educational institutions, and any place of worship. The BMC claimed the prohibition was applicable to hawkers and not stall owners.
The high court said it would examine this issue, but noted that there was an issue regarding proper use of footpaths which are meant for pedestrians and not for anybody to carry out their business. “If the corporation permits any stall owner to erect the stall on the footpath, then the corporation is prima facie acting against public interest as it causes obstructions to the pedestrians and resultantly the pedestrians would be forced to use the road for walking, thereby endangering their own lives and also lives of the occupants of the vehicles which are plying on the road,” the court said.
The purpose of footpaths was to allow smooth passage of vehicles or traffic and to make available a safe path for pedestrians to walk, it said. “This very purpose, in our opinion, is prima facie getting defeated at the hands of the Corporation by permitting erection of stalls right in the middle of the footpath,” the bench said. The HC directed the BMC to reconsider its decision.