Centre forces state to become more humane with hawkers

Several state governments still have stringent punishment for hawkers hawking in the restricted areas. For instance, In Mumbai, for example, a hawker at present can be imprisoned for hawking in a no-hawking zone. This will no longer be considered as a cognizable crime, as objections have been raised by the Central Government. Maharashtra Govt. has now decided to do-away with the 6 months imprisonment for illegal hawking and hawking in a no- hawking zone. Such offences will invite only a monetary fine.

On the basis of a court directive, the state government had formulated legislation to regulate hawking, which was approved by both houses of the legislature in 2010.  It was drafted on the basis of recommendations by an expert panel comprising state officials, hawkers’ union representatives and eminent citizens. After the legislature’s approval, the legislation was sent for Presidential assent.  A clear distinction between illegal and legal trade was drawn, besides introducing new concepts like stationery and mobile hawking. ‘Hawking in a no-hawking area’ cannot be considered as a ‘major offence’, as hawkers are not financially sound and well-educated.

 Adequate measure are also planned to make registration mandatory for the hawkers. The Centre is expected to discuss this and further plans to set up avenues of training and employment for the economically weak urban populations. The welfare measures initiated by the Government might prove to be a great boon for the hawkers, but at the same time, they would end up paying a heavy fine of Rs 5000/-, besides imprisonment, if they are found indulging in illegal trade.


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