Footpaths are meant for pedestrians, says Delhi HC

A bench of Justices Kailash Gambhir and Najmi Waziri, of Delhi High Court while hearing a plea by one Suman Lata who had sought directions to New Delhi Municipal Council to renew her lease for running a pan stall ordered that, footpaths are meant for pedestrians, not for providing livelihood to hawkers and setting up of shops or kiosks. Court also observed that, rights of pedestrians must be “zealously protected, lest they be compelled to use the main roads-with fast moving traffic, at their own peril.”

In this regard, Court also directed New Delhi Municipal Council to carry out a survey within a week to identify pavements and footpaths that have been encroached upon by hawkers so they can be removed. Court further observed that, “by definition, footpaths are meant for pedestrians and the latter have the first right over these. The rights of pedestrians can’t be compromised in the name of providing livelihood to hawkers in metropolises.” Court said that in an “ever-burgeoning” city like Delhi, the rights of pedestrians can’t be compromised on.

New Delhi Municipal Council had found the premises were being misused because hazardous material like gas cylinders were being stored improperly and the stall was encroaching on public land. Dismissing the plea, the single judge had directed New Delhi Municipal Council to carry out a survey and file an action taken report in 12 weeks. The deadline fixed by the court ended last week.

Though, New Delhi Municipal Council informed the bench that surveys are being carried out on various roads and it has so far examined 257 sites, Court was not satisfied, and termed the current state of affairs as “horrifying” since occupants of kiosks carried out various activities “beyond their allocated spaces and blocked spaces meant for pedestrians.” Court further directed New Delhi Municipal Council that its survey must include photographs of all sites to prove that footpaths and pavements are “free, clear and clean” and also asked Delhi Police to provide protection to New Delhi Municipal Council officials enforcing court orders.