Child beggars: HC asks Delhi govt to share steps taken to rehabilitate rescued minors

The Delhi High Court has directed the city government to disclose the steps taken to rehabilitate children who have been rescued after being found begging on streets.

The high court also asked the Delhi government to file a status report with information on children in conflict with law rescued by the authorities and housed in various rehabilitation centres.

“The Government of NCT of Delhi is also directed to file a detailed status report within six weeks providing information regarding children in conflict with law rescued by the government and housed in various rehabilitation centres, steps taken by the government for rehabilitation of such children and an assessment of long-term impact of such centres upon children in its care,” a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula said.

The high court, hearing a public interest litigation seeking eradication of begging by children here, earlier issued notices to the Centre, Delhi government and the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR).

The petitioner contended that despite the implementation of various schemes and programmes undertaken by various agencies, commissions and government bodies, the issue of child begging remains widespread in Delhi.

The high court said it becomes crucial to examine the impact of various rehabilitation measures in light of the persistence of this grave social issue.

The bench listed the matter for further hearing on October 13.

The high court had in August 2022 directed the Centre, city government and DCPCR to disclose the steps taken by them to rescue and rehabilitate children begging on Delhi streets.

Petitioner Ajay Gautam has sought directions to authorities to rehabilitate children who are beggars and to identify and arrest persons who are “pushing women using toddlers, teenage girls and small children into begging and…crime” and exploiting young girls.

He has alleged that in spite of the presence of beggars in every part of the city, the authorities have failed to take any remedial steps to curb the menace.

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“Everyone knows that begging mafia is actively behind this menace of begging by the children and they in fact kidnap, train, force and torture innocent children for begging,” the petition stated.

The DCPCR counsel had earlier submitted that they have been carrying out periodical checks and rescuing and rehabilitating children found begging on streets.

The plea said small children are deliberately harmed and injured to “get maximum sympathy of people”.

“It has been commonly seen in winters that young girls hold toddlers without clothes to gain maximum sympathy. It is also not out of context to mention here that in many cases these gangs/mafias and young girls intentionally give sedatives to small children to gather sympathy of people, risking lives of toddlers as young as 9-12 months,” the petition said.

It contended that the Constitution mandates the State to make efforts to provide best opportunities for the development of children and ensure they are not abused.

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