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SC Refuses To Take 'Elitist' View Of Banning Beggars From Streets Amid Pandemic

The top court issued notices to the Centre and the Delhi government, seeking their responses within two weeks on a petition for rehabilitation of beggars and their vaccination amid the pandemic

SC Refuses To Take 'Elitist' View Of Banning Beggars From Streets Amid Pandemic
Many people are compelled to beg on the streets for livelihood as a result of lack of education and employment, said a bench of justices | PTI
SC Refuses To Take 'Elitist' View Of Banning Beggars From Streets Amid Pandemic
outlookindia.com
2021-07-27T13:05:01+05:30

Amid concerns about containing the spread of Covid-19 ahead of an imminent third wave, the country's apex court on Sunday refused to take an "elitist" view of beggars and asked the Delhi Government to respond to a plea seeking rehabilitation and vaccination of beggars and vagabonds amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the response of the Centre after having said earlier that it will not take an elitist view on beggars not being allowed on the streets as it is a socio-economic problem. It further asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist in the matter.

The apex court said begging is a “socio-political problem” and people are compelled to beg on the streets to eke out some elementary livelihood in the absence of education and employment.

As per the observation of a bench of justice DY Chandrachud and M R Shah that many people are compelled to beg on the streets for livelihood as a result of lack of education and employment.

"As the Supreme Court, we would not want to take an elitist view that no beggars should be there on the streets," the bench said.

The top court issued notices to the Centre and the Delhi government, seeking their responses within two weeks on the prayer made in the petition for rehabilitation of beggars and vagabonds, their vaccination and providing them with shelter and food amid the pandemic.

The SC bench told the counsel appearing for the petitioner that it would not consider one part of the prayer which sought direction to the authorities to restrain beggars, vagabonds and homeless persons from begging at public places or traffic junctions.

The bench said it would issue notices to the Centre and the Delhi government seeking their responses on the prayer made in the petition for rehabilitation, vaccination and providing food and shelters to beggars and vagabonds amid the pandemic.

"As the Supreme Court, we would not want to take an elitist view that no beggars should be there on the streets," the bench said.

While referring to a part of the prayer made in the plea, the bench said it is seeking to restrain people from begging on the streets.

“This is a socio-economic problem of poverty. The idea is to rehabilitate them, give them and their children education,” it said, adding that such people have no choice and nobody wants to beg.

The bench said it is a “wider issue” of social welfare policy of the government and the apex court cannot say that such persons should be kept away from our eyes.

The counsel appearing for the petitioner said the object and purport of the prayer is to rehabilitate them and ensure that they are provided vaccination, food and shelter amid the pandemic situation.

The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist it in the matter and posted it for hearing after two weeks.

At the outset, the petitioner’s counsel told the bench that the issue raised in the plea is regarding rehabilitation of beggars as the impending third wave of Covid-19 pandemic poses a serious threat.

The bench noted in its order that it has indicated to the petitioner that it is not inclined to countenance a prayer seeking directions to restrain beggars and vagabonds from the streets.

“The reason why people are generally required to take to the streets to beg is to eke out some elementary livelihood in the absence of education and employment. This is a socio-economic problem and can’t be remedied as sought in prayer A,” the bench observed.

It noted that the petitioner’s counsel has said that he is not pressing the prayer seeking directions to restrain beggars and vagabonds from the streets.

“In view of the clarification issued, we are inclined to issue notice,” the bench said while granting liberty to the petitioner to amend the prayer.

It said since the immediate issue which needs to be attended is that of vaccinating these persons, it would expect the Centre and Delhi government to apprise it about the steps which are being taken to deal with this human situation.

(With inputs from PTI)

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