Dr. S.Muralidhar, J. (Open Court)
1. This writ petition has been filed by the Mobile Catering Van and Chef Cart Welfare Association and 15 other persons seeking a mandamus to respondent no.1, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi ('MCD') and respondent no.2, the Commissioner of Delhi Police "not to disturb or remove the mobile catering vans parked at various places in Delhi".
2. In order to cater to the needs of the large cross-section of Delhi's population, a policy has been evolved by the MCD to grant licences to mobile catering vans and chef carts on the fulfilment of certain conditions. A mobile catering van is a vehicle fitted with a functional engine and is expected to be operating in certain streets of Delhi for a fixed number of hours. Considering the nature of this activity one of the conditions on which the licence is granted, is the grant of a No Objection Certificate (NOC) by the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Delhi Police.
3. In the writ petition it is stated that the petitioners are being harassed by the respondents although they have not been violating any of the conditions of the licence. Replies have been filed by both the respondents. The stand of the Delhi Police is that parking of the mobile catering vans, is increasing the congestion in the traffic, therefore, there is a move to discourage "mushrooming of mobile catering vans". A grievance has also been made that many of the petitioners are in fact violating the terms and conditions of the licence.
4. The reply of the MCD indicates petitioner-wise the status of the validity of the licence. In the case of some of the petitioners the licences have expired on 31.3.2004, in some others on 31.3.2006 and in yet others on 31.3.2007. The stand taken by the MCD is that such of those petitioners who are without a valid licence, cannot seek any relief from this Court till such time licence is not renewed.
5. On the previous hearing, the Court took note of the status report filed by the MCD and required them to inform the Court the date on which the application for renewal was filed by each of the petitioners and the reasons, if any, for the non-consideration of such applications till date. The petitioners have since filed rejoinder affidavits. A further status report has been filed by Mr. Bagai in Court on behalf of Delhi Police.
6. The rejoinder filed by the petitioner indicates that in cases where there has been rejection of the renewal of licence, it was on account of the Traffic Police, not granting an NOC on an omnibus "administration ground". Counsel for the petitioner submits that, on the face of it, this would be an untenable ground for rejection and that some valid reasons would be required to be given in support of such rejection. The petitioners have also set out a tabulated chart which tallies with the status report as regards the status of the licence. However the petitioners point out that in the cases of petitioners no. 4,7,8,9 and 11, the applications are still pending and no decision has yet been communicated.
7. From the status report of the Delhi Police, it appears that in the cases of the following four persons, licence has been renewed:
(i) Ram Kumar, petitioner no. 8 renewed up to 31.12.2007;
(ii) Pankaj Malhotra, petitioner no. 11 renewed up to 30.11.2007;
(iii) Harish Kumar, petitioner no. 12 renewed up to 31.12.2007 and
(iv) Smt. Vibha, petitioner no. 15 renewed up to 31.12.2007.
8. Mr. Bagai, learned counsel for the Delhi Police, on instructions, states that such of those petitioners whose licences have been renewed will not be disturbed till the expiry of their renewed licence. If they are found violating any of the licence conditions, advance notice would be given to them asking them to give an explanation on such violations. They would thereafter be heard before any order adverse to them is passed. As regards the other petitioners, Mr. Bagai states that there is no pending application with the Delhi Police for grant of NOC and that in all such cases the request has been rejected. He states that the copies of the rejection order will be furnished to counsel for the counsel for the petitioners and the petitioners within one week from today and in any event not later than 4.5.2007.
9. It is made clear that such of the petitioners in whose cases the request for NOC has been rejected and consequently, the application for renewal stand rejected, it will be open to each of them to challenge such order in accordance with law. In case any petitioner has not
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yet applied for renewal of licence, he is permitted to do so within 10 days from today and such application, if made, will be disposed of by the respondent in accordance with law. 10. Subject to what has been directed in paras 7 and 8as regards petitioners 8,11,12 and 15, the interim protection stands vacated. 11. With the above directions, the writ petition is disposed of. 12. Copy of the order be given dasti under the signatures of the Court Master. Petition disposed of.