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Begging not criminal offence: Delhi High Court

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday ruled that begging is not a criminal offence and struck down laws penalizing it. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar struck down the provisions prosecuting begging under the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act.

The bench decriminalised begging and said that prosecution under the provisions of the Act was “unconstitutional”. However, the court granted liberty to the Delhi government to bring in alternative legislation to curb the racket of forced begging after undertaking an empirical examination on the sociological and economic aspect of the matter.

The court was hearing 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 pleas also sought basic amenities such as proper food and medical facilities at all beggar homes in Delhi.