SC says can’t take elitist view to stop begging; issues notice to Centre, Delhi govt for vaccination of beggars

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Tuesday made it clear that it cannot take an elitist view and ban begging while stressing that needing to take to the streets to eke out a living is a socio-economic problem.
A Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah issued notice to the Centre and Delhi government on a petition seeking vaccination and rehabilitation of homeless, beggars and vagabonds amid COVID-19 pandemic across India.
“The reason why people are required to take to the streets to beg is to eke out an elementary livelihood in the absence of education and employment. It’s a social-economic problem and cannot be remedied in this way,” said the Bench while saying that it cannot pass an order to remove beggars from the streets, public places and traffic junctions.
“Your first prayer is to restrain people from being on the streets. Why do people beg on the street? It’s a function of poverty. As the Supreme Court, we will not take an elitist view. They have no choice. Nobody wants to beg,” Justice Chandrachud told the Senior Advocate Chinmoy Sharma, appearing for the petitioner.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Advocate Kush Kalra seeking to restrain beggars, vagabonds or those who are homeless from begging at traffic junctions, in markets and public places to avoid the spread of COVID-19 pandemic across India and to rehabilitate them.
This is a wider issue of social welfare policy from the Government, we can’t say that “keep them away from our eyes”, the apex court said.
The top court asked the Centre and Delhi government to apprise it about steps are being taken to deal with this human problem and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.
The top court opined that the issue is a socio-economic problem and requires urgent attention of the Centre and Delhi government regarding vaccination of beggars, and homeless in the national capital.
“Immediate issue is to ensure vaccination of the persons and that the facilities for a pandemic are available. We direct the Union of India and GNCT Delhi to file a response on how to deal with this human situation. Solicitor-General can assist the Court,” the apex court stated in the order.
The court, during the hearing, said that beggars, vagabonds, homeless are entitled to medical facilities as others in relation to COVID-19. (Agencies)