The Delhi High Court today decriminalised begging in the national capital. The Court said that the provisions penalising the act were unconstitutional and deserved to be struck down.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said the inevitable consequence of this decision would be that prosecution under the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act against persons alleged to have committed the offence of begging would be liable to be struck down.
The court said the Delhi government is at liberty to bring in alternative legislation to curb any racket of forced begging after undertaking an empirical examination on the sociological and economic aspect of the matter.
The court made it clear that the provision of the Act which does not directly or indirectly criminalise begging or relate to the offence of begging is not required to be struck down and are maintained The High Court was considering two PILs seeking to decriminalise begging.
Currently, there is no central law on begging and destitution and most states have adopted the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which criminalises begging or have modelled their laws on it.