Relevance – SC has ruled against the criminalization of begging.
Synopsis – The Supreme Court refuses to ban begging amid pandemics.
- The Supreme Court turned down a petition demanding to restrain vagabonds and the homeless from begging at traffic lights, markets, and public places, to prevent the spread of corona virus.
- The Supreme Court also stated that it is a socio-economic issue that requires a compassionate and humanitarian solution. It asked the Centre and State governments to ensure vaccinations for the homeless and providing them with shelter and food amid the pandemic.
- The SC observed that vagabonds, homeless, are compelled to beg on the streets to make a living owing to a lack of education and work.
Begging law in India-
- There is no central law on begging and destitution. Most states [20 states and two UTs] have adopted the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which criminalizes begging or has modeled their laws on it.
- The Bombay Prevention Act allows the police and social welfare departments to simply seize homeless people, or indeed anyone who looks destitute, and send them to detention centers.
Previous stance over begging-
In 2018, Delhi High Court decriminalized begging in the national capital and pointed out that nobody begs out of choice or to shirk other employment.
In a society where the government is unable to provide food or work, how can begging be considered a restraint or an offense? It is immoral to turn the poor into criminals until the government can offer good livelihoods for everybody.