Will not decriminalise begging, Centre tells HC

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New Delhi, Sep 14 (IANS) The Centre on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that it had dropped the proposal to bring a law to decriminalise begging and said the Delhi government could formulate a law of its own.

“We are not decriminalising begging. The proposal has been dropped. The central government has no law on begging but the states are empowered to do so on their own,” the Centre’s counsel Monika said, adding that the Delhi government could bring its own Act on the issue.

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar said: “You (Centre) were taking one year to produce this draft bill. It is very unfortunate. We are only concerned with Delhi, and not the legislation as a whole.”

The court said the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act of 1959 was extended to Delhi through a central government amendment and the Delhi government could not bring any notification on its own to remove it.

Earlier, the Ministry of Social Justice told the court that it had drafted a bill to decriminalise begging and rehabilitate beggars and homeless people.

The court has posted for November 14 two public interest litigations by Harsh Mandar and Karnika Sawhney to seek basic human and fundamental rights for beggars in the national capital and for decriminalising begging.

The PILs also sought basic amenities like proper food and medical facilities at all beggars’ homes in Delhi.

–IANS

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