The Delhi High Court Wednesday struck down a legal provision that criminalises begging in the national capital. In its order, the court said the Delhi government can bring in an alternative legislation to curb any racket of forced begging.
The court passed the order after hearing two PILs seeking basic human and fundamental rights for beggars. The petitioners, Harsh Mandar and Karnika Sawhney, sought basic amenities like proper food and medical facilities at all beggars’ homes in the city.
Last year, the Centre had informed the high court that begging should not be a crime if it is done due to poverty. The court had earlier pulled up the Centre for not amending the law to decriminalise begging and rehabilitate the beggars even after an undertaking was given by it a year ago.
The Centre and the AAP government had previously informed the court that the Ministry of Social Justice had drafted a bill to decriminalise begging and rehabilitate beggars and homeless people. But, later the proposal to amend the legislation was dropped.
Currently, there is no central law on begging and destitution and most states have adopted the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which criminalises beggary or have modelled their laws on it. The two petitions have challenged the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act.
with PTI inputs