HC seeks reply of Uddhav government, BMC on reliefs for traders amid COVID curbs

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government and the Mumbai civic body to file their replies to a petition moved by a traders’ body seeking several reliefs during the ongoing lockdown-like restrictions in the state.

A bench of Justices R D Dhanuka and M J Jamdar was hearing a petition filed by the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association.

The petitioners told the HC that since the state had prohibited shops and retailers not dealing with essential items from functioning during the ongoing restrictions, they were facing heavy losses and financial instability.

The bench directed the state government to clarify in its affidavit if any incentives, similar to that provided to street hawkers affected by the restrictions, could be extended to the petitioners.

In the plea, the petitioners also said that while e-commerce websites were also prohibited from delivering non essential items across the state, they had been flouting the norm and the state authorities were turning a blind eye to such violations.

However, state’s counsel Jyoti Chavan told the HC that the state government’s resolution issued earlier this year strictly prohibited all retailers and traders, including e-commerce websites, from selling or delivering non-essential goods during the restrictions.

The HC directed the state to clarify in its affidavit the steps it was taking to ensure e-commerce websites were not flouting the government’s standard operating procedure (SoP) on the delivery of non-essential goods during the period of curbs.

The petitioners had also sought waivers in license fee and municipal taxes till the time they were prohibited from resuming their businesses.

The HC directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to address the issues in its affidavit.

It directed the state and the BMC to file their respective affidavits within two weeks.

The court will continue hearing the pleas on June 21.