Under the Constitution
The preamble of the Indian Constitution states that India is a sovereign, socialist,secular democratic republic State and shall secure to its citizens justice, social, economic and political and equality of status and of opportunity.
Article 14 of the Constitution states that the State shall not deny to any person's equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Article 19(1) (g) gives the Indian citizen a fundamental right to practice
any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. This
right is limited only by the right of the State i.e. the Indian government,
to prescribe professional or technical qualifications for certain trades
or professions, and right of the State to create monopolies in certain
trade, business or industry in the interest of the general public. Otherwise
a citizen's right to carry on a trade or profession of his choice is
These fundamental rights granted in Article 14 and 19 are enforceable against the State by invoking the "writ jurisdiction" of the High Courts or Supreme Court of India under Articles 226 or 32 of the Constitution respectively. And to the credit of the Indian judiciary it must be said that it has time and again risen to the occasion and come to the rescue of the helpless vendors when victimized by the law enforcing agencies like the police or municipal officer, who from time to time carry out anti encroachment drives and clean-up operations.
Directive Principles of State Policy
Under part IV of the Indian Constitution, several Directive Principles of State Policy have been enunciated. Though these are not enforceable in the Courts, yet they are fundamental in the governance of the country.
In particular Art. 38 (1) directs the State to promote the welfare of
the people by securing a social order in which justice-social, economic
and political, shall inform all institutions of national life. The State
is also directed by Art. 38(2) to 'minimize the inequalities in income
status, facilities and opportunities', Art 39(a) directs the State to formulate
policy to ensure that citizens, men and women equally have the right to
an adequate means of livelihood. It further provides that ownership and
control of material resources of the community must be distributed to serve
the common good,
and that the operation of the economic system must not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production. Art 41 specifically provides for 'right to work' within the limits of the economic capacity of the State.
The State Municipal Laws
Under the BPMC Act, all public streets vest in the Municipal Corporation. The Municipal Commissioner, who is the Chief Executive Officer under this Act, has wide powers to regulate streets, remove encroachments and public nuisances as also to grant or refuse licenses.
The BMPC also prohibits placing stalls, benches, chairs etc. on a public place or causing any obstruction, without written permission of the Commissioner (Sec. 230).
The Supreme Court of India directed the 'Municipality to construct a multi-storied market to accommodate all these women-vendors and provide at least 2 large lifts for them to carry their agricultural produce. For diverse reasons the judgment has not been implemented in full effect.
Virtually sale of any commodity by hawking or street-vending, whether foods, fish, fowl, vegetable, fruits etc. require a license under the BPMC Act (See Secs 384, 385, Chapter XVIII and others).
Under Criminal Laws
Please refer to the 'Municipal and Police Laws' of the 'Research Section'
of the website
Ground Realities and Operationalization of these Laws. But in reality hawkers and street vendors have, and continue to move from crisis to crisis in their daily life as they face multifarious problems in India.
Some High Court Judgements
Some more reports on legal works
M.A. PAL MOHAMMAD V.R.K. SDARANAGAM AIR 985 Mad.23
BOMBAY HAWKERS UNION vs. BOMBAY MUNICIPAL CORPORATION (1985)3
ROMESH CHANDER vs. IMTIAZ KHAN (1998) 4 SCC 760.
OLGA TELLIS vs. BOMBAY MUNICIPAL CORPORATION (1985) SCC 545.
SODAN SINGH vs. NDMC (1989) 4 SCC 155
SODAN SINGH vs. NDMC (1988) 2 SCC 727
GAINDA RAM vs MCD (1993) 3 SCC 179
GAINDA RAM vs MCD (1994) 5 SCC 52
GAINDA RAM vs MCD (1998) 3 SCC 188.
MUNICIPAL CORP. OF DELHI vs. GURNAM KAUR (1989) 1 SCC 101.