India Delhi To Have New Anti-begging Law

Jan 1, 2010
New Delhi: The national capital, which has been using a 51-year-old law to deal with begging, is drafting a more "humane" legislation incorporating various welfare schemes, an official said.

Delhi, along with 17 other states, adopted the (Bombay) Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which authorises police to detain anyone found begging on the streets.

The official said that implementing the law leads to court cases which "takes much of the government's time" instead of keeping the focus on welfare of beggars.

"So as a step forward, we planned to go for a new legislation," he added.

The government also wants to facilitate various welfare measures like vocational training, rehabilitation and shelter. In a bid to allocate funds for their welfare, a process is also under way to find the number of beggars and homeless in the capital.

According to a government estimate, there are around 60,000 beggars in the capital, 30 percent of whom are below 18 years of age. Around 69.94 percent are men and 30.06 percent are women.

NGOs, however, say the actual number of beggars is over a lakh (100,000).

The Delhi government's social welfare department, that is supposed to work for the welfare of beggars, has so far failed to do its job. Their move to round up hundreds of beggars ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2010 drew the ire of human rights activists.
Rajneesh Madhok