Parliament on 19 February 2014 passed the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) bill-2014. The Bill provides protection of livelihoods rights, social security of street vendors, regulation of urban street vending in the country and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Rajya Sabha adopted the bill by a voice vote and without discussion and earlier it was adopted by Lok Sabha on 6 September 2013.
The Street Vendors Bill aims at protect the rights of the urban street vendors and regulating street vending activities. It also aims towards creation of a conducive atmosphere where street vendors will be eligible to carry out their business in a fair and transparent manner, without fear of eviction and harassment.
Main features of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2014 are as follows
• The Bill provides for constitution of a Town Vending Authority in each Local Authority, which is the fulcrum of the Bill, for implementing the provisions of the Bill.
• In order to ensure participatory decision making for aspects relating to street vending activities like determination of natural market, identification of vending zones, preparation of street vending plan, survey of street vendors etc. the TVC is required to have representation of officials and non-officials and street vendors, including women vendors with due representation from SC, ST, OBC, Minorities and persons with disabilities. It has been provided that 40 percent members of the TVC will be from amongst street vendors to be selected through election, of which one-third shall be women.
• To avoid arbitrariness of authorities, the Bill provides for a survey of all existing street vendors, and subsequent survey at-least once in every five years, and issue of certificate of vending to all the street vendors identified in the survey, with preference to SC, ST, OBC, women, persons with disabilities, minorities etc.
• All existing street vendors, identified in the survey, will be accommodated in the vending zones subject to a norm conforming to 2.5 percent of the population of the ward or zone or town or city.
• Where the numbers of street vendors identified are more than the holding capacity of the vending zone, the Town Vending Committee (TVC) is required to carry out a draw of lots for issuing the certificate of vending for that vending zone and the remaining persons will be accommodated in any adjoining vending zone to avoid relocation.
• Those street vendors who have been issued a certificate of vending/license etc. before the commencement of this Act, they will be deemed to be a street vendor for that category and for the period for which he/she has been issued such certificate of vending/license.
• It has been provided that no street vendor will be evicted until the survey has been completed and certificate of vending issued to the street vendors.
• It has also been provided that in case a street vendor, to whom a certificate of vending is issued, dies or suffers from any permanent disability or is ill, one of his family member i.e. spouse or dependent child can vend in his place, till the validity of the certificate of vending.
• Thus the mechanism is to provide universal coverage, by protecting the street vendors from harassment and promoting their livelihoods.
• Procedure for relocation, eviction and confiscation of goods has been specified and made street vendor friendly. It is proposed to provide for recommendation of the TVC, as a necessary condition for relocation being carried out by the local authority.
• Relocation of street vendors should be exercised as a last resort. Accordingly, a set of principles to be followed for ‘relocation’ is proposed to be provided for in the second Schedule of the Bill, which states that
(i) Relocation should be avoided as far as possible, unless there is clear and urgent need for the land in question
(ii) Affected vendors or their representatives shall be involved in planning and implementation of the rehabilitation project
(iii) Affected vendors shall be relocated so as to improve their livelihoods and standards of living or at least to restore them, in real terms to pre-evicted levels
(iv) Natural markets where street vendors have conducted business for over fifty years shall be declared as heritage markets, and the street vendors in such markets shall not be relocated.
• The Local authority is required to make out a plan once in every 5 years, on the recommendation of TVC, to promote a supportive environment and adequate space for urban street vendors to carry out their vocation. It specifically provides that declaration of no-vending zone shall be carried subject to the specified principles namely; any existing natural market, or an existing market as identified under the survey shall not be declared as a no-vending zone; declaration of no-vending zone shall be done in a manner which displaces the minimum percentage of street vendors; no zone will be declared as a no-vending zone till such time as the survey has not been carried out and the plan for street vending has not been formulated. Thus the Bill provides for enough safeguards to protect street vendors’ interests.
• The thrust of the Bill is on natural market, which has been defined under the Bill. The entire planning exercise has to ensure that the provision of space or area for street vending is reasonable and consistent with existing natural markets. Thus, natural locations where there is a constant congregation of buyers and sellers will be protected under the Bill.
• There is a provision for establishment of an independent dispute redressal mechanism under the chairmanship of retired judicial officers to maintain impartiality towards grievance redressal of street vendors.
• The Bill provides for time period for release of seized goods, for both perishable and non-perishable goods. In case of non-perishable goods, the local authority is required to release the goods within two working days and incase of perishable goods, the goods shall be released the same day, of the claim being made.
• The Bill also provides for promotional measures to be undertaken by the Government, towards availability of credit, insurance and other welfare schemes of social security, capacity building programmes, research, education and training programme etc. for street vendors.
• Section 29 of the Bill provides for protection of street vendors from harassment by police and other authorities and provides for an overriding clause to ensure they carry on their business without the fear of harassment by the authorities under any other law.
• The Bill specifically provides that the Rules under the Bill have to be notified within one year of its commencement, and Scheme has to be notified within six months of its commencement to prevent delay in implementation.
Apart from the Street Vendors Bill 2014, the Parliament also passed two other bills namely Governors Emoluments, (Allowances and Privileges) Amendment and National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment). These two bills were also approved by the Rajya Sabha without discussion after these were adopted by the Lok Sabha.