The Gujarat High Court on Thursday pulled up the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) for its recent drive against food stalls selling non-vegetarian food in the city, as it warned it that such actions should not be carried to "satisfy the egos" of some people. The civic body, however, said that only eateries that have encroached on public land faced action.
"Today someone has a nightmare and tomorrow morning you'll stop people from selling everything. Don't do it under a drive to satisfy the egos of some people," the single judge bench said.
Justice Biren Vaishnav made the comments while hearing a plea by 25 street vendors whose carts had been seized by the Corporation recently. The vendors included those selling non-veg food, eggs as well as vegetables.
The court also cautioned the civic body that such actions should not be carried under political pressure.
"...because the party in power says you don't want to eat eggs, you want to stop them, you'll pick them up and take them away? Why are you doing that?," the single judge bench said.
The civic body, however, said that the drive was not against eateries selling non-vegetarian food but was aimed to remove illegal shops on roads that were causing "hindrance to public and traffic, or absolute blockage of pedestrians".
"Petition filed under misconception because there is no drive to remove all non-vegetarian carts. I have taken instructions. I am saying that encroachment on roads, which is hindrance to public and traffic, or absolute blockage of pedestrians," the lawyer representing the civic body said.
To this Justice Vaishnav replied," If there are encroachments, they must be given up. Welcome acting on encroachments. It is your power. But don't just confiscate because today morning someone says I don't want something".
At one point, Justice Vaishnav got agitated and asked the AMC "What is your problem? How can you decide what I should eat outside my house? How can you stop people from eating what they want? Suddenly because someone in power thinks that this is what they want to do?"
"If I have become sentimental, I withdraw it. Welcome acting on encroachments. It is your power. But don't just confiscate because today morning someone says I don't want something," Justice Vaishnav said.
The lawyer replied, saying that "can never be my lord".
Justice Vaishnav later dismissed the petition.
The demands for the removal of non-vegetarian food carts from roads have mostly come up from local BJP leaders in different cities of Gujarat but the state government has said that it has no problem with different food habits of people.
"Some people eat vegetarian food, some people eat non-vegetarian food, the BJP government does not have any problem with it. There have been demands to remove particular 'larries' (carts) from the road.
"Our only concern is that, the food sold from food carts should not be unhygienic," Mr Patel said, addressing a BJP programme at Bandhani village in Anand district.