Begging in Delhi no more a criminal offence: High Court


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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday quashing the legal provisions that criminalises begging in the national capital crime and said that the provision to punish this act is unconstitutional and should be canceled.

The High Court said Criminalising begging violates the most fundamental rights of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.  HC also blamed the state for not being able to ensure even the bare essentials of the right to life to all its citizens.

The Bench of Acting Chief Justice Geeta Mittal and Justice C. Harishankar said that the inevitable consequence of this decision will be that the case pending against the alleged accused of the crime can be canceled under the Prevention Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959.

The court said that after considering the experience based on the social and economic aspect of this matter, the Delhi government is free to bring alternative laws to control the gangs who are begging. The court had asked on May 16 that how begging could be an offence in a country where the government was unable to provide food or jobs. The High Court was hearing two PILs demanding removal of begging from the category of crime.

The central government had said that prevention of begging in Mumbai has sufficient balance in the law. Begging under this law is in the category of crime. The public interest petitions of Harsh Mandar and Karnika Sahni were requested to provide basic human and fundamental rights to beggars in the national capital.

‘Poverty root cause’

“If we want to eradicate begging, artificial means will not suffice. A move to criminalise them will make them invisible without addressing the root cause — poverty” Delhi HC Bench

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