“Businesses that operate in defiance of the laws of the land are encouraged to thrive” thanks to food delivery platforms like Zomato, Swiggy and Dunzo, which have incorporated many “illegal” restaurants and put public health at risk, a petition filed by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (AHAR) in the Bombay High Court. Moreover, municipal authorities have neglected their duty to curb the growth of these illegal restaurants, the petition states.
Many restaurants operate without the required licenses in unsafe and unsanitary conditions
- AHAR members have obtained all required licenses: The petition stated that AHAR and its member restaurants had obtained all permissions to operate a restaurant, including licenses under:
- Section 394 of the MMC Act, 1888
- Fire Chief No Objection Certificate
- Registration under Maharashtra Shops and Establishment Act 1946
- FSSAI Registration
- But, many restaurants operate without these required licenses: Several unlicensed and illegal restaurants across the city are operating their businesses from their residences, stores and galas without obtaining the required mandatory permits mentioned above, the petition states. Several restaurants are also operating in the streets and on street corners which is illegal according to the Judgment and Order of 23.10.2016 passed by the Bombay High Court in the case of Shri Vile Parle Kelwani Mandal v MCGM & Ors, adds the petition.
- Illegal restaurants operate in unsanitary places: Many illegal vendors operate from premises which are “nothing but a minimum space carried out in the most unsanitary conditions” and without the premises being registered with the Department of Buildings and Factories and without Occupancy Certificates (OC) or Certificates of Completion (CC), says the petition.
- The use of LPG cylinders obtained illegally by some restaurants poses a significant safety risk: Unlicensed restaurants illegally purchase LPG gas cylinders, making “all illegal premises vulnerable to serious incidents and accidents from the explosion of these LPG cylinders. The grave imminent risk that disturbs and perplexes the petitioner is the risk to all residents in general in the vicinity of all such illegal premises, which may result in serious loss and injury, which may be fatal,” the petition states.
- Illegal restaurants have profited from COVID-19 lockdowns while AHAR licensed members have suffered economically:
“Said lockdown has had a destructive impact on legally operating catering businesses; inasmuch as, on the one hand, restaurants were forced to remain closed for most of the duration of the lockdown and were then allowed to operate their businesses only for home deliveries and to some extent with capacity limited host and for a limited time reduced operating hours. All of these events have had a crushing impact on the legally operating restaurant industry. On the other hand, on the other hand, the aforementioned illegally operated food delivery outlets, by the very nature of the business, i.e. operating through residences, galas, street corners, etc. ., do not comply with the legally mandatory conditions linked to the lockdown applicable to catering businesses. – AHAR Petition
Food delivery companies have encouraged the growth of illegal restaurants, while city authorities have turned a blind eye
- Food delivery services like Zomato and Swiggy have encouraged illegal restaurants: Delivery services (listed as respondents 13-20 below) have signed up a significant number of illegally operating restaurants as members and allowed them to sell to the general public. Food delivery companies listed these restaurants without verifying whether they had obtained the required licenses, the petition states.
- Municipal authorities put public life at risk: The administration and the civil authorities turned a blind eye to “these illegalities which are rampant day after day” and “they put public life in immense danger of serious health risks”. If mishaps or fatal accidents occur at any time, such as food poisoning or other pandemic due to unhygienic food every day, “absolute criminal responsibility” will rest with municipal authorities as well as delivery companies. of food. This negligence by the civil authorities violates Article 21 of the Indian Constitution read together with Article 47 of the Indian Constitution. “Article 21 guarantees the fundamental right to live with human dignity. At the same time, Article 47 entrusts the State with the duty and responsibility to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health, which is the first duty incumbent on the State”, explains the petition.
- Delivery services, as well as police stations, have not taken concrete action in response to the notices sent by the government: AHAR lodged several complaints with the Chief Health Officer of Greater Mumbai Municipality following which the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for H/West Ward issued notices to food delivery businesses calling on them to stop picking up and delivering food from illegal restaurants and also asking them to provide the names and addresses of all restaurants that are registered with them. The Ministry of Health has also sent notices to senior police inspectors in Khar, Bandra and Santacruz police stations to take appropriate action under the law against illegally operating restaurants, but neither food delivery nor police stations have taken any concrete action in accordance with these notices, the petition argued.
- Did not receive responses for RTI requests: Sumeer Sabharwal (Petitioner 2) has filed RTIs with the Ministry of Health to know the status of the various notices sent but has not yet received a response, the petition states.
- Vehicles used by delivery drivers are registered for personal use: The two-wheelers used by the delivery drivers are registered with the Regional Transportation Office (RTO) for personal use but used for business purposes as they pick up and deliver food for food delivery companies.
- The FSSAI licenses some restaurants without proper oversight: Many illegal vendors manage to obtain the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) license despite not being eligible for it, the petition says.
“What is very and immensely worrying is that the FSSAI authority grants these licenses without even scrutinizing for once, the premises and the quality of the food cooked by these wandering vendors playing and mocking the health of thousands and of thousands of people everywhere and The food delivery companies who through unlawful gratuities have encouraged such widespread violation have turned civic authorities and BMC (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) officials, even the police, as mere spectators, without even an iota of control. – AHRA Petition
What is the petition asking for?
The petition requested the following in its relief prayer:
- Applicants are permitted to issue a public notice to all unlicensed restaurant owners/operators, for being prosecuted under the provisions of Ordinance 1 Rule 8 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908.
- Direction to BMC and Mumbai Police to take appropriate action under the law against illegal eating establishments as well as illegal roadside vendors such as sealing establishments until licenses are obtained.
- Instructions to municipal authorities listed as Respondents 1-12 below to take action against food delivery companies listed as respondents 13 to 20 and to comply with the Shri Vile Parle Kelwani Mandal vs MCGM & Ors order issued by the Bombay HC.
- Go to the Mumbai police to register FIR against officials of food delivery companies to open a full investigation.
- Management of LPG companies listed as respondents 21 and 22 to stop the supply of LPG cylinders to illegal restaurants.
- Go to the Mumbai police to take the appropriate measures action against food delivery companies for use of non-commercial vehicles and commercial use of two-wheelers.
- To announce restaurants operating only with an FSSAI license and without the Municipal Health License or licenses under Section 394 of the MMC Act as illegal.
- Direction to the BMC to put online on its website a list of licensed restaurants and instructions to all catering houses to prominently display their license details.
Who are the plaintiffs and the respondents?
- Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association
- Sumeer Ramdayal Sabharwal who runs a restaurant called “Dimppys”
- Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation
- The Executive Health Officer, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai
- Maharashtra State
- Police Commissioner, Mumbai
- Addl. Police Commissioner, Traffic, Mumbai
- The Food and Drug Administration
- Union of India through Ministry of Law and Justice
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
- The Department of Health and Family Welfare
- The Fire Chief, Mumbai
- Divisional Fire Brigade, Mumbai
- Regional Fire Brigade, Mumbai
- Bundl Technologies Pvt. ltd.
- Zomato Limited
- Dunzo Limited
- Crows Thirst Marketing Services
- Shadowfax Technology
- Mrs. Moving Lala
- Samast Technologies
- Sefast India (Wefast)
- Bharat Oil
- Hindustan Oil Company
- All owners/operators of all unlicensed restaurants, food parcel kitchens, road and building food vendors, food trucks and carts, and all/all other road and building food vendors residentials prosecuted under the provisions of Ordinance 1 Rule 8 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 as representative
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