Madras High Court appoints former CJ to monitor the selection process of Marina beach vendors

The Madras High Court on Tuesday appointed former Sikkim High Court Chief Justice Satish K. Agnihotri to select, by draw of lots, the 900 vendors to whom licences would be issued by the Greater Chennai Corporation for selling food items, souvenirs and other articles on modern push carts as part of the Marina Beach Beautification Project.

The Second Division Bench of Justices Vineet Kothari and M.S. Ramesh made the appointment after Additional Advocate General S.R. Rajagopal suggested the name of the retired judge and also stated that the latter had consented to supervise the draw of lots in order to ensure fairness and transparency in the process of selecting the vendors.

When an advocate representing the vendors commended the efforts taken by the court towards beautification of the beach but insisted on taking care of the vendors too, the judges said they had already instructed the Corporation to bear in mind that the endeavour of the court was to beautify the beach and not to disturb the livelihood of the vendors.

Alternative avenues

On Monday, the judges had instructed the AAG to find out some alternative avenues for the vendors who could not be accommodated in the Marina beach. It was not as if Marina beach was the only place where the vendors could eke out their living. They could earn money even in other places, the senior judge on the Bench told the AAG.

While restricting the number of vendors on the Marina beach to 900, it must be ensured that others do not flood the court by claiming deprivation of livelihood, he added. The AAG, in turn, told the court that the Corporation had decided to grant licence to the vendors under two categories.

He said 60% of the licences would be given to the existing vendors and the rest would be given to new vendors.

He submitted that at present more than one member of a family had been vending on the beach. Steps had been taken to identify such people and restrict the vending licence to only one member per family, he said.

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