The court also raised doubt over the intentions of the corporation as it said that the decree was being apparently issued to please the ruling party.

 

NEW DELHI — The Gujarat High Court on Thursday pulled up Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation for prohibiting vendors from selling non-vegetarian food on the streets of the city asking what gives them the authority to decide the food behaviour of the people.

“You don’t like non-veg food, it is your lookout. How can you decide what people should eat outside? How can you stop people from eating what they want?” asked Justice Biren Vaishnav, hearing a plea filed by the aggrieved vendors.

The court also raised doubt over the intentions of the corporation as it said that the decree was being apparently issued to please the ruling party.

“How can you decide what people should eat? Suddenly because someone in power thinks that this is what they want to do? Tomorrow you will decide what I should eat outside my house? Tomorrow they will tell me that I should not consume sugarcane juice because it might cause diabetes or that coffee is bad for my health,” the court continued.

The court further instructed the corporation to expeditiously consider the release of seized goods of the vendors and asked the Corporation Commissioner to be present in the court on next hearing.

Coming down heavily on the corporation, Justice Vaishnav asked, “How do you dare indiscriminately pick up people?”

The judge asked, “Ask your Corporation Commissioner to be present! How do you dare indiscriminately pick up people?”

A number of cities including Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, and Vadodara had last month ordered eviction of vendors selling non-vegetarian food, citing it hurts the sentiments of the Hindus.

Vendors selling non-vegetarian food mainly come from Muslim, Dalit, or Adivasi communities.

There have also been increasing instances of attacks on vendors selling non-vegetarian food by Hindutva goons in the BJP ruled states.

“Handcarts were impounded without any rhyme or reason throughout the state,” the plea alleged, adding, “No due process was followed during the action.”

The vendors prayed before the court that the authorities be directed to allow them to sell non-vegetarian food arguing that they do not violate anybody’s rights.

“A vegetarian might find [the] consumption of non-vegetarian food offensive whereas a vegan might find [the] consumption of milk, cheese, and honey as offensive… As long as a person doesn’t violate any law, he/she must be free to sell anything under the right to livelihood guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution,” read the petition.

Street vendors also alleged that the government was not  implementing the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, in the state.