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Street vendor first in Delhi booked under BNS; Police later junk case | Latest News Delhi

Street vendor first in Delhi booked under BNS; Police later junk case | Latest News Delhi

In the early hours of Monday, Delhi Police registered their first FIR against a 19-year-old street vendor under the new criminal law code. However, hours later, police said they are in the process of quashing the FIR after a review of the case.

Police said he was apprehended by a sub-inspector around 12.15am for obstructing a public way with his cart under the foot over-bridge near the New Delhi Railway Station. (HT Photo)

The reversal comes amid public criticism, including from members of opposition parties, who blamed the Centre for “targeting poor street vendors”.

Union home minister Amit Shah, in a press conference on Monday, said the FIR has been quashed. The Delhi Police have not issued a clarification about the exact reason for quashing of the FIR.

At 1.30am on Monday, an FIR was lodged under provisions of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita against a street vendor in the Kamla Market area.

Police said he was apprehended by a sub-inspector around 12.15am for obstructing a public way with his cart under the foot over-bridge near the New Delhi Railway Station. The FIR was lodged around 1.30am and the vendor’s stall was shut.

The original copy of the FIR read: “A person was openly selling water, bidis and cigarettes by putting his cart on the public road which was causing trouble and obstruction to the public. Passersby felt bad about this. The SI (complainant) told the person several times to remove his cart from the public way but the person ignored his words. The SI told 4-5 passersby to join the investigation by telling them the situation, but everyone left the spot… The SI (then) made a video of the spot on his mobile phone through E- Praman application”

The FIR was registered under Section 285 of the BNS. The section states: “Whoever, by doing any act, or by omitting to take order with any property in his possession or under his charge, causes danger, obstruction or injury to any person in any public way or public line of navigation, shall be punished with fine which may extend to 5,000.”

Soon afterwards, the FIR copy was made public, which was done as it was the first FIR under the new criminal laws enacted in the country from Monday.

The Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and Indian Evidence Act, the British-era laws that formed the basis of the criminal justice system of the country for over 150 years, ceased to exist from Monday, when the three new criminal laws brought by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came into force. The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), replaces the IPC, while the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) replaces the CrPC, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA) replaces the Indian Evidence Act.

Opposition parties, led by Congress, however, criticised the Delhi Police for “targeting” a street vendor.

Congress leader and MP Jairam Ramesh wrote on X: “The first FIR has already been filed under Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita 2023. It is by the Delhi police against a street vendor for obstruction, after he was earning his daily livelihood under a foot-over bridge of New Delhi Railway Station.”

Arbind Singh, the national coordinator of National Association of Street Vendors of India, said that it was a misuse of the new law. He said, “This is unfortunate as the registered case is against a street vendor who has done nothing but exercise his right to livelihood. The authority has filed a case on baseless grounds and this will lead to fear among the vendors, on top of that fines are hefty which street vendors will not be able to bear and this will create more den of corruption.”

Union home minister Amit Shah later addressed the media and said the first FIR in India under BNS was lodged in Gwalior in a case of motorcycle theft. He said, “About the vendor case, there were provisions earlier as well. It is not a new provision. Police used the provision to review (the case) and has quashed that case”

DCP Harsha Vardhan (central), however, did not elaborate on the reason for the quashing and refused comment on it.

A senior police officer, who did not wish to be identified, said the FIR is being quashed and the IO will go to court. “It was registered based on a sub inspector’s statement. It was reviewed later and is now being dismissed.” The officer too denied giving the reason for quashing.

The vendor, Pankaj Kumar, was called to the police station and his statement was recorded. His elder brother, Mithoon Kumar, told HT, “Why was my brother targeted? It was my stall which has been near the NDLS since 2007. Why was the FIR filed now? He was targeted late at night and he didn’t ignore any directions/orders. We sell cigarettes and water bottles. We don’t know anything about the new law. At midnight, two officers came and started recording him without a reason…any explanation. On Monday morning, our shop was shut. We don’t know what is happening.”

The first day of new proceedings

At other police stations, Delhi Police officials continued lodging FIRs throughout the day in a large variety of cases – ranging from theft, accidents, and many more. More than 20 FIRs were lodged on Monday under the new law code, said another officer who refused to be named.

An FIR in Seelampur lodged on Monday is against two unknown persons who have been booked under attempted murder and Arms Act for shooting a man in the torso. The FIR was lodged by Shahdara district and the matter is under investigation.

In Mangolpuri, a case was lodged against a street vendor for obstructing in public way. Police said the vendor had a small auto parts shop which was on the main road. DCP Jimmy Chiram (outer) said, “There was also an accident case reported in Nihal Vihar. Three other FIRs lodged in Sultanpuri police station and one each in Rani Bagh and Raj Park”

In Northeast Delhi, the police lodged a theft case but refused to share the details.

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