Reveal plan to rid city of begging,says court; Govt says readying new law to replace 50-year-old Bombay anti-begging legislation
The Delhi High Court is hardly gung-ho about Jai Ho. The judges see the Oscar-wining films storyline as,at best,commonplace. Slumdog Millionaire may be important for people abroad but not for us,for whom poverty is sadly an everyday sight, a Division Bench led by Justice Badar Durrez Ahamed said on Monday in reply to a lawyers graphic accounts on how the film contained true-to-life scenes about children pushed into begging.
Hearing a petition on the growing number of beggars in Delhi,the Bench said the right formula would be to eliminate poverty from the streets,and not hide them in a city busy dressing up to host the Commonwealth Games next year. Calling begging a human problem a combined result of poverty and the presence of criminal gangs who exploit the poor the court asked the Delhi governments Social Welfare Department to reveal its plan to rid the Capital of public begging.
In reply,Delhi governments counsel Mukta Gupta filed a written report annexed with the minutes of an advisory committee meeting held on November 24,2008,which said that a three-member panel has been formed to draft a new legislation against begging specially meant for Delhi.
The Capital till date depends on a 50-year-old law borrowed from the tinsel town: the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act,1959.
The Social Welfare Department felt it better to have a separate law for Delhi, says minutes of the meeting signed by Joint Director (Social Welfare) B R Singh. We found that 17 other states have enacted their own laws.
The document placed before the court says a three-member committee comprising S N Singh (Dean,Delhi University),Mahesh Sharma (District Social Welfare Officer),and S M Ali (Welfare Officer) has been set up for this purpose.
The main report,prepared by Senior Superintendent (Social Defence) R P Kukreti listed various means so far taken to combat begging,primarily the sanction received from Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna for two mobile courts to book beggars. The Finance Department has approved/sanctioned two mobile courts, the document states. The Lieutenant Governor has approved the setting up of the courts with a Special Metropolitan Magistrate,one stenographer and a probationary officer.
The Social Welfare Department has further invited tenders for hiring 13 vehicles for anti-begging operations in Delhi.
It also noted that a biometric machine to identify repeat offenders has been set up at the rehabilitation centre in Kingsway Camp. We also maintain a database since January 2008, the report said. It promises a full-fledged awareness campaign against begging to start within the next three months.
Delhis beggar story
2,232 beggars apprehended
1,378 released by court
986 committed/transferred to beggar homes
107 inmates in beggar homes till December 2008
(2008 statistics as per Social Welfare Department)