Begging no crime: Delhi high court

NEW DELHI: How can begging be an offence in a rustic where the federal government is not able to provide food or jobs, the Delhi prime court on Wednesday observed while listening to two PILs seeking to decriminalise begging. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Jusice C Hari Shankar also observed that a person begs only out of "sheer necessity" and not via choice.

"You or we will not beg even if we are offered a crore of rupees. It is out of sheer necessity that someone puts out a hand to beg for food. How is begging an offence in a country where you (government) are not able to provide food or jobs," the court said.

The central government said there have been sufficient checks and balances within the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act which criminalises begging.

The government had earlier advised the court that begging should not be a criminal offense if it was once done because of poverty. It had also said that begging is probably not decriminalised.

The PILs, via Harsh Mandar and Karnika Sawhney, have sought elementary human and basic rights for beggars within the capital, apart from decriminalising begging.

They have also sought elementary amenities akin to proper food and scientific facilities at all beggars' houses within the city.

The petitioners have also challenged the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act.

The Centre and the AAP government had in October 2016 advised the court that the Ministry of Social Justice had drafted a invoice to decriminalise begging and rehabilitate beggars and homeless other people. But later the proposal to amend the law was once dropped.

The regulation prescribes a penalty of greater than 3 years of jail in case of first conviction for begging and the individual can also be ordered to be detained for 10 years in next conviction.

Currently, there's no central regulation on begging and destitution and most states have followed the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which criminalises begging, or have modelled their laws on it.
Begging no crime: Delhi high court Begging no crime: Delhi high court Reviewed by kailash soni on May 18, 2018 Rating: 5
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