The bill aimed at providing social security and livelihood rights to street vendors has its origins in the ‘Street Vendors Policy’ introduced in 2004, which was later revised as ‘National Policy on Urban Street Vendors, 2009. Also in the same year, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation circulated a draft of the bill titled,
‘Model Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2009’,
between all States and Union Territory governments for creation of state legislation, however, it had no legal bindings, thus few governments made any progress in this regard. Eventually, in 2010, the Supreme Court of India, which has recognized street vending as a source of livelihood, directed the ministry to work out on central legislation, and a draft of same was unveiled to the public on 11 November 2011. The key point of the draft bill was, protection legitimate street vendors from harassment by police and civic authorities, and demarcation of “vending zones” on the basis of “traditional natural markets”, proper representation of vendors and women in decision making bodies, and establishment of effective grievance redressal and dispute resolution mechanism.
The bill was drafted with the help of the National Advisory Council, chaired by Sonia Gandhi, and approved by the Union Cabinet on 17 August 2012. After the cabinet’s approval, it was introduced in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Parliament of India) on 6 September 2012 by the Union Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Kumari Selja, amidst the uproar over the coal block allocation scam in the house. The Bill was passed in the Loksabha on 6 September 2013 and by the Rajyasabha on 19 February 2014.
The National Hawker Federation (NHF) has pointed out that the present bill differs from the draft bill, which ensured that ‘Town Vending Committees’ (TVC) would have at least 40 per cent representation of street vendors, however, the final bill presented in the monsoon session of the Parliament, the civic bodies, which have no representation of street vendors, are made the final authority on all issues concerning their fate, including the rehabilitation and resettlement plans, plus the bill also have legal ambiguities, like no clear definition of “public purpose land”, which makes its interpretation liable to misuse of the law.
According to Sharit Bhowmik, professor and chairperson of the Centre for Labour Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, the bill leaves the onus of creating the schemes to the local municipalities of the states, “which defeats the purpose of a Central legislation.
Content of the Bill
- Town Vending Committee will be responsible for conducting the survey of all the vendors under its jurisdiction, and such a survey must be conducted every five years.
- No street vendor will be evicted until such a survey has been made and a certificate of vending has been issued.
- All street vendors will be accommodated in a designated vending zone. In case, all the vendors cannot be accommodated in the same vending zone, allocation of space will be made by drawing of lots.
- However, those who fail to get space in the same vending zone, will be accommodated in adjoining vending zones.
- All street vendors above fourteen years of age will be granted a certificate of vending. However, such certificates will be granted only if the person gives an undertaking that he will carry out his business by himself or through the help of his family members, he has no other means of livelihood and he will not transfer the certificate.
- However, the certificate can be transferred to one of his family members if such vendor dies or suffers from permanent disability.
- The certificate may be cancelled if the vendor breaches the conditions of the certificate.
- No vendor will be allowed to carry out vending activities in no-vending zones.
- In case of declaration of a specified area as a no-vending zone, the vendors will be relocated to another area. However, such street vendors must be given a notice of at least 30 days for relocation.
- Vendors who fail to vacate such space after a notice has been given will have to pay a penalty which may extend up to two hundred fifty rupees per day.
- The local authority may physically remove the vendor and make seizure of goods of such vendors who have not relocated to the vending zones.
- There shall be a dispute resolution body consisting of a Chairperson who has been a civil judge or a judicial magistrate and two other professionals as prescribed by the appropriate government.
- There will be a Town Vending Committee in each zone or ward of the local authority.
- A vendor who vends without a certificate of vending or a vendor who contravenes the conditions laid down in the certificate may be penalised with a fine which may extend up to two thousand rupees.