Supreme Court of India.

Can’t take an elitist view, says SC; refuses to restrain begging at traffic junctions, public places

THE Supreme Court Tuesday said it could not pass an order to restrain beggars and vagabonds and the homeless from begging on traffic junctions, markets and public places to avoid the spread of Covid19, because a large number of people, including children, were compelled to be on the streets to beg due to the absence of education and employment.

The court said it could not take an elitist view in the matter.

A two-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah added this was a socio-economic issue that could not be remedied by a court order.

“This is a human problem which has to be redressed by the welfare state in a manner which accords with Part III (Fundamental Rights) and IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) of the Constitution”, the bench said.

Senior advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma, for the petitioner, clarified that the purport of the petition was not what is conveyed by a prima facie reading of the first part of the prayer but one that sought a direction for the rehabilitation of those who were compelled to be on the streets to eke out a living by begging.

Sharma said there was an urgent need to ensure that the vaccination programme included them like all other citizens.

The court agreed to issue notice since the prayer which gave the impression of seeking to restrain begging was not pressed by the petitioner. The court however told the petitioner to amend the prayer.

It also sought the assistance of the Solicitor General in the matter.

The court said it would expect a response from the Union of India and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi on what steps were being taken to deal with this human concern.

The matter will now be heard on August 10.

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